Epitomizing the fantastic quality that has come to define Kuniyoshi’s work, this print is one of the most iconic ukiyo-e designs and perhaps Kuniyoshi’s bestknown work. Following the Taira no Masakado’s failed attempt to seize control of Kyoto, his daughter Takiyasha remained in the dilapidated Soma palace in Shimosa province (Chiba). Alone among the ruins, she became an accomplished sorceress. When the hero Mitsukuni is sent to destroy Takiyasha, it is he that meets his end. In Kuniyoshi’s interpretation of this tale, Takiyasha stands beneath the broken lattice, summoning the massive skeleton specter from the darkness. Leaning over two sheets, the specter curls its claw-like fingers around the blinds, lowering its hollow face towards the ill-fated intruders. It is possible that Kuniyoshi drew inspiration for this strikingly large skeleton from anatomical models in Dutch drawing manuals.
Print illustrated: Museum of Fine Arts, British Museum, Honolulu Museum of Art, Waseda University Theatre Museum