The True Story of Arashi from Osaka


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

The True Story of Arashi from Osaka

by Utagawa Hiroshige III, 1874

IHL Cat. #516

About This Print

Sources: Guy Pepermans (via the bulletin board Ukiyo-e Q&A, who was kind enough to provide me with the basic story behind this print also confirming the artist as Hiroshige III, and follow up emails) and as footnoted below.

This print was likely issued as a nishiki-e shinbun (newspaper woodblock print) just before the release of the actor Arashi Rikaku III (嵐璃鶴) from jail in September 1874 for the March 1871 murder, by arsenic poisoning, of the money lender Kobayashi Kinpei, the patron of Rikaku's lover, the beautiful geisha Harada Kinu 原田 絹 [aka Harada Okinu and Yoarashi (夜嵐 night storm) Okinu.]

Of course, the newspapers had a field day with the murder which became part of the genre of dokufu, so-called “poison women” tales.  This case not only generated newspaper stories and prints but also a book by the journalist and kan writer Okamoto Kisen, titled Night Storm Okinu’s Flowery Dream of Revenge (Yoarashi Okinu hana do ada-yume, 1878) based on a poem Harada recited before her beheading.1

As the story goes Harada conspired with Arashi Rikaku III, by whom she was five months pregnant, to kill her patron Kobayashi Kinpei.  Within several months they were both arrested2, tried and sentenced to death.  While awaiting execution, Rikaku's sentence was commuted to three years in prison because his "crime had been deemed insufficiently serious enough to warrant capital punishment" but Okinu was told "For having committed a capital crime a while ago your sentence is still in effect and at this time you are expected to cross the Sanzu River.." (the Buddhist equivalent of crossing the River Styx.)3 However, the government delayed her execution to allow her to give birth.

On February 20, 18724, Okinu’s head was cut off at the Kodukahara execution grounds, and displayed in public for several days.  Rikakau was released from prison in September 1874 and went back to the kabuki theater where he rebuilt his career as the actor Ichikawa Gonjurō II, dying of pneumonia in 1904.

Three akudama's and a single zendama occupy the diptych representing evil and good. For the origin of these zendama and akudama figures please see the article on this site titled Representations of Good and Evil: Origins of Zendama and Akudama Figures in Japanese Prints.

Good 善 Zendama
        Evil 悪 Akudama

Transcription of the Story on the Print


“悪玉「サア/\おやかたかやの中へおはいんなせへよ 淫婦原田絹女「モシおやかたおまへさんとふうふになれバわたしやアしんでもほんもうだよ 悪玉「ふたりともはやくおいで/\”

"Yoarashi is awake and arranging flowers without dreaming" - as translated by Trevor Skingle
2 Some reports have Rikaku being arrested during one of his performances.
3 Night storm Okinu Flower Frail Dreams of Revenge, translated by Trevor Skingle
4 Some sources give the date of execution as March 28, 1872.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description The True Story of Arashi from Osaka
 浪花之嵐實録噺 Naniwa no Arashi jitsuroku hanashi
 Artist Utagawa Hiroshige III (1842–1894)
ōju (by demand) followed by below "Hiroshige" seal
 Publication Date 1874, 8th month
 Hamadaya Tetsugorō 浜田屋鉄五郎 (seal 'Hamatetsu' 濱鉄), Tokyo [Marks: pub. ref. 087; seal ref. 25-580]
 Impression good
 Colors good
 Condition fair - rubbing, vertical center folds each sheet with some separation at bottom margin, backing
 Genre ukiyo-e, nishiki-e shinbun
 MiscellaneousAn inverted date seal was applied to this print, as shown on the left below.  To its right is a normal date seal for 1874, 8th month. 

inverted  date seal
1874 8th month
normal date seal
1874 8th month
 Format oban diptych
 H x W Paper 
 14 1/8 x 9 1/2 in. (35.9 x 24.1 cm) each sheet

 Collections This Print
last revision: