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Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III): Ghost of Iwafuji 
scene from Kagamiyama Gonichi no Iwafuji 

Japan, Edo period, 1860


Colour woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper, vertical oban, 35 x 24 cm (13 3/4 x 9 7/16 in.). Originally left sheet of a diptych.


Kagamiyama Gonichi no Iwafuji centers on the revenge of the ghost of Iwafuji, which holds a grudge against Lord Tairyô and against Ohatsu, who killed her five years before. The print depicts the scene in act I when the ghost of Iwafuji in a fantastical effect materializes out of the fluorescent bones scattered over a desolate bank, and declares her intention to destroy Taga Tairyô.


The actors Ichikawa Kodanji IV, Iwai Kumesaburô III and Seki Sanjûrô III played the roles of the ghost of Iwafuji, Onoe II and Mochizuki Danjô in the drama, which was staged in the 3rd lunar month of 1860.


Utagawa Kunisada (Japanese: 歌川 国貞; also known as Utagawa Toyokuni III (三代歌川豊国); 1786 – 12 January 1865) was the most popular, prolific and financially successful designer of ukiyo-e woodblock prints in 19th-century Japan. In his own time, his reputation far exceeded that of his contemporaries, Hokusai, Hiroshige and Kuniyoshi. 

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