When the wealthy merchant Sano Jirozaemon (佐野次郎左衛門), during a trip to Edo (江戸), visited Yoshiwara (吉原), he fell in love with Yatsuhashi (八ツ橋), the most beautiful courtesan in the famous pleasure district. He also became her patron and was determined to buy her out. However, Yatsuhashi had a secret lover and, finally, publicly rejected the merchant who, feeling humiliated, murdered her with the haunted sword Kagotsurube (籠釣瓶), which was passed down in his family.
This rare woodblock print is taken from the series “A Collection of Kyogen Actors” (俳優狂言尽の内) by the artist Toyohara Kunichika (豊原国周) and is inspired by the theatrical adaptation of a true news story that took place in 1696, which saw the killing of dozens of women and which is remembered with the name “Yoshiwara hyakunin giri” (吉原百人斬り), that is “One hundred Yoshiwara slash”. The woman is played by the actor Nakamura Fukusuke (中村福助), instead the role of Jirozaemon is played by Ichikawa Sadanji (市川左團次).
The print on Japanese washi paper (和紙), produced in April 1888 by the publisher Naraha Shubei (楢葉周平) and by the engraver Watanabe Yataro (渡辺弥太郎), despite the right signs of aging including small stains, an imperceptible pressure mark from a paper clip on the top edge and a small stroke of ink in the lower left corner, is in overall good condition thanks also to a relining carried out on the back.