Yuten Shonin is an historical character. He studied at Zojoji temple, (where the scene is set) and became influential with the fifth Tokugawa Shogun. He eventually became Abbot at the temple and an important Buddhist scholar. Fudo-Myoo is one of the five “Kings of Wisdom" in Buddhist lore and is often attended by the goddess of mercy, Kannon - pictured here in the right hand sheet. The legend has it that in 1656, when Yuten was still a novice at the temple, the statue of Fudo Myoo came alive and threatened the young Yuten Shonin with his sword of wisdom. Shonin prostrates himself and consumes the sword of wisdom, thereby gaining supernatural wisdom and enlightenment.
Other impressions of Yoshitoshi Tsukioka's Fudo-Myoo Threatens Yuten can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.