Act XII (Jūnidanme), from the series The Storehouse of Loyal Retainers (Chūshingura)

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Act XII (Jūnidanme), from the series

The Storehouse of Loyal Retainers (Chūshingura)

by Utagawa Yoshitora, c. 1865

Steam Train at Takanawa Seashore, Tokyo

IHL Cat. #1790

About This Print

Act XII: The deed has been done, revenge achieved, Moronao (the historical figure protocol officer Kira Kōzuke-no-suke Yoshinaka) has been slain, and his head, washed and wrapped with a purple cloth, is being presented by forty-six of the "loyal forty-seven rōnin" at the grave of their master, Enya Hangan [the historical figure Asano Takumi-no-kami Naganori, the daimyō of Akō (Lord Asano)] in Segakuji temple. The dirk by which Lord Asano disembowled himself is held aloft by Hazama Jūjirō, one of the rōnin who discovered where Moronao was hiding.

The names of sixteen of the loyal ronin are shown in the red cartouches, including the names of Hazama Jūjirō 間十次郎, who is seen holding the dirk before the grave of his lord; Ōishi Kuranosuke 大石内蔵助 (the leader of the loyal forty-seven rōnin), seen holding the manuscript (see discussion below), and Takebayashi Tadashichi 竹林唯七, offering incense.

The gravestone (shown above) contains the following inscriptions:
源長矩朝臣 [Lord Asano Naganori]  吹く毛玄利大居士 [his posthumous Buddhist name, alluding to his passing in the spring of life]
元禄十四年三月十四日 [Genroku 14th year, 3rd month, 14th day - April 21, 1701, the day when Asano Naganori drew his sword in a corridor of Edo Castle and slashed at the senior bakufu protocol official, Kira Yoshinaka.]

Act XII - The Third Manuscript and the Presentation of Lord Kira's Head to Lord Asano's Grave
Source: "A Tale of Old Japan: The Forty-Seven Ronin" by A. B. Mitford, appearing in the magazine The Living Age, The Living Age Co., 1897, p. 357-358.
The third manuscript is a paper which the Forty-seven Ronins laid upon the tomb of their master, together with the head of Kira Kōtsuké no Suké: — “The 15th year of Genroku, the 12th month , and 16th day. We have come this day to do homage here, forty-seven men in all, from Oishi Kuranosuke down to the foot-soldier, Terasaka Kichiyemon, all cheerfully about to lay down our lives on your behalf. We reverently announce this to the honoured spirit of our dead master. 0n the 14th day of the third month of last year our honoured master was pleased to attack Kira Kōtsuké no Suké, for what reason we know not. Our honoured master put an end to his own life, but Kira Kōtsuké no Suké lived. Although we fear that after the decree issued by the Government this plot of ours will be displeasing to our honoured muster, still we, who have eaten of your food, could not without blushing repeat the verse. ‘Thou shalt not live under the some heaven nor tread the some earth with the enemy of thy father or lord,‘ nor could we have dared to leave hell and present ourselves before you in paradise, unless we had carried out the vengeance which you began. Every day that we waited seemed as three autumns to us. Verily we have trodden the snow for one day, nay, for two days, and have tasted food but once. The old and decrepit, the sick and ailing, have come forth gladly to lay down their lives. Men might laugh at us, as at grass hoppers trusting in the strength of their arms, and thus shame our honoured lord; but we could not halt in our deed of vengeance. Having taken counsel together last night, we have escorted my Lord Kōtsuké no Suké hither to your tomb. This dirk by which our honoured lord set great store last year, and entrusted to our care, we now bring back. If your noble spirit be now present before this tomb, we ray you, as a sign, to take this dirk, and, striking the head of your enemy with it a second time, to dispel your hatred for ever. This is the respectful statement of forty-seven men."

To read more about the representations of Chūshingura in woodblock prints see the article on this site Chūshingura (The Treasury of Loyal Retainers) in Woodblock Prints.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Act XII 十二段目
 Series Kanadehon Chūshingura 假名手本忠臣蔵
 Artist Utagawa Yoshitora (fl. c. 1836-1882)
Ichimōsai Yoshitora ga 一猛斎芳虎 画
 Seal no artist's seal
 Publication Date
 not dated, c. 1865
Kobayashi Tetsujirō 小林 鉄 次 郎 (Maruya Tetsujirō, Marks reference publisher 300, seal reference: similar to 26-139)
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent
Genre ukiyo-e
 Format horizontal ōban
 H x W Paper 
 9 3/16 x 13 5/8 in. (23.3 x 34.6 cm)
 H x W Image 8 3/4 x 13 1/4 in. (22.2 x 33.7 cm)
 Collections This Print