Koshimoto Nureginu in Honchō nijūshikō from the Illustrated Collection of Famous Japanese Puppets of the Osaka Bunrakuza

Seitaka Dōji from the folio Collection of One Hundred Kumadori Makeups in Kabuki, Collection 2

 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Koshimoto Nureginu in Honchō nijūshikō 

[Twenty-Four Examples of Filial Piety]

from the Illustrated Collection of Famous Japanese Puppets of the Osaka Bunrakuza

Hasegawa Sadanobu III, 1926 or 1927

Portrait of Saigō Takamori

IHL Cat. #2477

About This Print

Picturing the puppet character Koshimoto Nureginu, maid to Yaegaki Hime.

For the stage set of this play see Bunraku Theater Stage Set for Honchō nijūshikō

Brief Plot Summary

Source: Kabuki Encyclopedia, An English-Language Adaption of Kabuki Jiten, Samuel L. Leiter, Greenwood Press, 1979. p. 123-124 and The Kabuki Handbook, Aubrey S. & Giovanna M. Halford, Charles E. Tuttle Company, 12th printing 1981, p. 66-76.

Written in the mid 1700s for the puppet theater by Chikamatsu Hanji (1725-1783), assisted by Miyoshi Shoraku (1696-1775?) and Takeda Inaba, it was later adapted for the kabuki stage.

The very intricate plot revolves around the mid-16th century feud between the Takeda and Uesugi (called Nagao in the play) clans.  The Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru has recently been murdered, and the heads of these two noble families have been ordered by the shogun's widow to find the murderer or forfeit the heads of their heirs, Takeda Katsuyori and Nagao Kagekatsu.

Princess Yaegaki, daughter of Uesugi (Nagao), is betrothed to Katsuyori but only knows him through a portrait.  Before they can get married, Katsuyori supposedly commits suicide.  The real suicide victim, however, is the husband of Yaegaki's maid Nureginu.

In the most performed scene, Jūshukō (Ten Types of Incense) Yaegaki Hime and her maid Nureginu are grieving over the death of their lovers when the gardener Minosaku (Takeda Katsuyori in disguise) appears.  Yaegaki falls in love with the disguised Katsuyori (her former betrothed) and asks Nureginu to be her go-between.  Katsuyori asks Yaegaki for the sacred helmet originally belonging to Takeda Shingen as a token of her love. This request reveals to Yaegaki that Minosaku is none other than Takeda Katsuyori.  Katsuyori continues saying he is Minosaku and Yaegaki takes Katsuyori's sword and tries to kill herself, saying she is too ashamed of what she did to get the love of somebody who is not her betrothed. Moved by Yaegaki's faithful love, Katsuyori tells her the truth.

Nagao Kenshin appears on stage and sends Minosaku away to deliver a letter, He then orders his strongest retainers, the sword-bearer Shirasuga Rokurō and the spear-holder Hara Kobunji, to kill Katsuyori. This shocks the two women who try to plead Katsuyori's cause to a relentless Kenshin. Yaegaki, Nureginu and Kenshin pose as the curtain is drawn to end the scene.

The Other Prints in the Honchō Nijūshikō Set

As further explained below, each stage set print was part of a set of five prints consisting of a black and white explanatory sheet and three portraits of puppet characters appearing in the play.

explanatory sheet
本朝廿四孝 Honchō nijūshikō
Source: The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 201-1548

The four print set for Honchō nijūshikō
puppets from left to right (as positioned on the stage set print's tissue overlay):
Koshimoto Nureginu 腰元濡衣, Takeda Katsuyori 武田勝頼, Yaegaki Hime 八重垣姫

About the "Illustrated Collection of Famous Japanese Puppets of the Osaka Bunrakuza"

This collection of forty-eight color woodblock prints was designed by Hasegawa Sadanobu III (Konobu III) (1881-1963) and issued over the period March 1926 (Taishō 15) to August 1927 (Shōwa 2)1 by the publishing houses Bijutsusha 美術社 in Tokyo and on a subscription (members only) basis by Hangakai hanmoto 版画会板元 (板畫會板元) in Kyoto. The cost per print set was 3 yen. The editor and publisher for both the Bijutsusha and Hangakai hanmoto sets was Hayashi Eikichi 林榮吉, who was also the editor for Hasegawa's Collection of One Hundred Kumadori Makeups in Kabuki. (See Hasegawa Sadanobu III (Konobu III) (1881-1963) for prints from this collection.)

The Illustrated Collection of Famous Japanese Puppets of the Osaka Bunrakuza consists of twelve sets of prints each set depicting a specific play in the bunraku repertory, as listed in the below table. Each set contains a stage set for the specific play along with three prints of puppet characters appearing in the play and an explanatory sheet, for a total of forty-eight color woodblock prints and twelve monochrome explanatory sheets. Each of the stage set prints was originally issued with a tissue overlay showing the position of the three puppet characters on the stage. All of the plays pictured were performed at the Bunraku Theater (Bunraku-za) located within the Goryō Shrine compound in Osaka. The Goryō Bunraku-za burned down in November 1926 after what has been described as "an extremely difficult managerial era" and "lost interest" by the public in the late Taishō era.2 It is unknown what role, if any, the management of the Goryō Bunraku-za may have played in the formulation and issuance of this print series in their efforts to revitalize the theater.

For more complete information on this series see the article Illustrated Collection of Famous Japanese Puppets of the Osaka Bunrakuza

1 Dates are taken from the colophons on the envelopes containing the print sets in the Waseda University Archives
2 National Diet Library website page http://www.ndl.go.jp/scenery/e/column/kansai/goryo_bunrakuza.html which provides a history of the Goryō Bunrakuza.

 Play Name in Japanese Play Name in English
 Dan-no-ura kabuto gunki
 Chronicle of the Battle of Dan-no-ura
 Yoshitsune senbon zakura 
 Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees
 Ichi-no-tani futaba gunki
 Chronicle of the Battle of Ichinotani
 Kanadehon Chūshingura, go danme
 The Treasury of Loyal Retainers, Act 5
 Kanadehon Chūshingura, shichi danme
 The Treasury of Loyal Retainers, Act 7
 Igagoe dōchū sugoroku
 The Revenge at Igagoe
 Shinjū ten no amajima
 The Love Suicides at Amijima
 Shinpan Utazaimon
 The New Scandalous Ballad of Osome and Hisamatsu
 Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami 
 Sugawara and the Secrets of  Calligraphy
 Honchō nijūshikō
 Twenty-four Examples of Filial Piety
 Kamakura sandaiki
 Three Generations of Kamakura Shoguns
 Natsumatsuri Naniwa kagami 
 Summer festival at Naniwa (Osaka)

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Koshimoto Nureginu in Honchō nijūshikō [Twenty-Four Examples of Filial Piety] 
 Bunraku ningyō Koshimoto Nureginu, Honchō nijūshikō
 文楽人形 本朝廿四孝 腰元濡衣

Note: Also translated as Twenty-Four Dutiful Sons; Twenty-Four Examples of Filial Piety; Twenty-Four Paragons of Filial Piety.
 Series Illustrated Collection of the Famous Japanese Puppets of the Osaka Bunrakuza
 Ōsaka Bunraku-za Ningyō Gashū: Nihon Meibutsu 
 Artist Hasegawa Sadanobu III (Konobu III) (1881-1963)
信 Konobu
 Seal 信 Konobu (see above)
 Publication Date Taishō 15 or Shōwa 2 (1926 or 1927)
 Publisher 美術社 Bijutsusha, Tokyo and 版画会板元 Hangakai hanmoto, Kyoto
 Carver 佐藤重一 Satō Jūichi
 Printer 板垣八重松 Itagaki Yaematsu
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent
 Genre 文楽人形 bunraku ningyō
 H x W Paper 
 14 7/16 x 9 7/8 in. (36.7 x 25.1 cm) 
 H x W Image 14 7/16 x 9 7/8 in. (36.7 x 25.1 cm) 

 Collections This Print
 Waseda University Cultural Resource Database 201-1549; Ritsumeikan University Art Research Center AcNo. arcBK06-002_45National Diet Library Call Number 414.38; The Met Thomas J. Watson Library  240.3081 H27 Quarto; British Library System number: 018894603 
last revision:
5/14/2021 created