Artist: Utagawa Kunisada I (Toyokuni III) (1786 – 1864)
Title: Plum. Actors Arashi Kichisaburo III as Token Gonbei, comparable to Yang Zhi (right); Ichikawa Kodanji IV as Danshichi Kurobei, comparable to Ruan Xiaoer (centre); and Iwai Kumesaburo III as Yakko no Koman, comparable to Hu Sanniang (left)
Series: A Contemporary Water Margin – Pine, Bamboo, and Plum
Publisher: Hayashiya Shogoro
Size: (R) 24.6 x 36.1 (C) 24.6 x 36.1 (L) 24.5 x 36.2 cm
In this triptych belonging to a series presenting actors in imagined roles compared to Water Margin characters, only one of the actors is shown with a tattoo, but the other two also have gorgeous kimono in patterns very similar to tattoo designs.
Danshichi’s distinctive kimono, is actually a robe imported from the Ainu culture in Japan’s far north. A large lobster is tattooed on his right arm, and on his shoulder and chest are feathers of a phoenix.
The actor Iwai Kumesaburo III, who specialised in female roles, appears as a ‘street knight’, or ‘onnadate’. She wears a black kimono with a pattern of cherry blossoms behind her, and carries a bamboo flute in addition to her sword.