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15 oktober 2017 

Who Is General Minamoto Yoshitsune Making Love to?

This print from Shigenobu (1787-1833)’s excellent ‘Willow Storm‘-series (late 1820s) depicts the pairing of general Minamoto Yoshitsune, who led the Minamoto forces during the Battle of Dannoura against the Taira clan, and Taira Tokuko, who was the daughter of Taira Kiyomori. The latter was a consort of Emperor Takakura and mother of Emperor Antoku.

 generalMinamoto Yoshitsune and Taira Tokuko by Shigenobu

General Minamoto Yoshitsune and Taira Tokuko‘ (late 1820s) Plate 1 from the series ‘Willow Storm (yanagi no arushi)‘ by Yanagawa Shigenobu (1787-1833)

Enticed

According to a popular legend, Tokuko had thrown herself into the sea while holding the young emperor Antoku in her arms. She was rescued by the Minamoto forces and enticed by Yoshitsune.

Raped

One of the many senryu comic poems of the time that was based on this theme goes “Yoshitsune saw his mother raped so he did the same to Kiyomori’s daughter”.

Minamoto Yoshitsune naking love to Taira Tokuko

Another impression

Sea Battle

The late shunga expert Hayashi Yoshikazu comments the following on the aesthetics of this piece: “…This print on a classical theme, is a mediocre example of the Utagawa style, and provides little indication of the talents of Shigenobu. The captions are written in narrow script, and the sea battle can be glimpsed through the window. Unfortunately, the print has been damages and darkened.”

minamoto yoshitsune

Gay encounter between Minamoto and a young male prostitute‘ (c.1840) Designed by a member of the Utagawa school

Despite Yoshikazu’s aesthetic concerns this first plate of this series is probably the most difficult to detect!

Click HERE for more exciting examples of the ‘Willow Storm‘-series!

Source: Vol.4 of ‘Teihon ukiyo-e shunga meihin shusei (The Complete Ukiyo-e Shunga), 1997′ by Hayashi Yoshikazu

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