Artist: Kyosai Kawanabe (1831 – 1889)
Title: Having faith finds snake nest (Horibe Yasubei Taketsune)
Publisher: Takekawa Seikichi
Size: 37 x 25 cm
The print is of Horibe Yasubei Taketsune (1670-1703), a ronin (masterless samurai) of Shibata. Orphaned at an early age, the life of Horibe was somewhat tumultuous. Although he was taken in as an heir of the Ako domain for his excellent swordsmanship, his new master also died, sentenced to the samurai ritual suicide of seppuku. The revenge for this incident cemented Horibe Yasubei as one of the forty seven ronin who avenged their master and achieved legendary status in Japanese history.
It is evident in his artworks that Kyosai did not shy away from dissident messages. The handling of this tale of those who defy the law in order to achieve revenge would not have been accepted by the recently fallen Tokugawa government. Under the Meiji restoration more liberties could be taken in regards to political commentaries and artistic content.