On the occasion of his mother’s death, Hayano Kanpei Tsuneyo (早野勘平常世) was in his home village and took care of his elderly father who, when the time came for the ronin (浪人) to gather in Edo (江戸) to avenge their lord’s death, begged him not to go away. Tsuneyo knew that if he disobeyed his father he would stray from the path of filial piety, yet if he turned his back on his sworn companions, he would nevertheless fail in loyalty to his lord. So, finally, he had no choice but to sacrifice his life by ritual suicide. His comrades, overwhelmed with sadness, on the night of the legendary assault on the residence of the evil Ko no Moronao (高師直) brought his spear with them, so that Tsuneyo’s spirit would also take part in the battle.
In this original woodblock print, taken from the famous series “Stories of the True Loyalty of the Faithful Samurai” (誠忠義士傳) by the artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳), we see him depicted as a ghost-like figure and in fact, except for his ronin uniform, both his complexion and his clothes are colorless.
The work, produced between July and December 1847 by the publisher Ebiya Rinnosuke (海老屋林之助), owner of Kaijudo (海寿堂), shows evident signs of aging and numerous restorations on woodworm holes.