N.1 ukiyo-e woodblock print
Year: 1852
Condition: good
Size: 24,5 x 35,5 cm



Hatsuhana (初花), the devoted wife of Iinuma Katsugoro (飯沼勝五郎), prays to the deity Hakone Gongen (箱根権現) under a sacred waterfall hoping to help her husband, who has lost the use of his legs, so that he can resume the search for his enemy Sato Gosuke (佐藤郷助) and avenge the murder of his brother. In one version of the story, Hatsuhana will die after a hundred days of such penance; in another, instead, the one who is praying is even her ghost, after the woman was beheaded by the evil Gosuke.

This fascinating woodblock print, in which the woman is played by the actor Iwai Hanshiro VI (六代目岩井半四郎), is titled “Hakone: Hatsuhana” (箱根 初花) and is taken from the series “Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido Road” (東海道五十三次の内) by the artist Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞).

The work, produced in March 1852 by the publisher Izutsuya Shokichi (井筒屋庄吉) and the carver Yokokawa Takejiro (横川竹二郎), despite the right signs of aging, is in good condition thanks also to an effective relining carried out on the back with Japanese washi paper (和紙).