Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, Peony Lantern, New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts

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Original Japanese woodblock print. 

Artist: Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (1839-1892)
Title: 27. Botan Doro (The Peony Lantern)
Series: New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts
Publisher: Sasaki Toyokichi
Date: 1891


Tsuyu was the daughter of a samurai. One day, she meets Shinzaburo, a handsome young man whom she falls in love with. Unable to see each other for a few months, Shinzaburo is horrified to hear that Tsuyu and her maidservant, Yone, had died from longing. On the evening of the Bon Festival of the Dead, two young ladies pass by his house carrying a beautiful lantern decorated with peony flowers. Shinzaburo instantly recognizes the ladies as his lover and her maid. He invites them in and they explain that the reason why they couldn’t see each other anymore was because Tsuyu was told he had passed away.


Suspicious of the ladies, Shinzaburo’s servant spies on his master every night and is terrified to discover that he is talking to..two skeletons. The servant goes to a priest who in turn warns Shinzaburo of the danger that awaits him: if he doesn’t stop seeing Tsuyu, he will meet his end as well. Shinzaburo, however, pays no heed and is found dead one morning, entwined with the bones of a young woman.


The sight of that particular peony lantern gleaming on the porch was all it took for his skin to crawl. They had come again: the two apparitions that paraded in front of his master’s house under the guise of Tsuyu and her maidservant. Months ago, Tsuyu was just a samurai’s daughter whom his master Shinzaburo had fallen in love with till her recent passing but now, from within the cracks of sliding panels and basked in candle light, a skeleton was pouring tea for his oblivious master. The priest had warned the servant against them and he, too, had let his master know but without fruition; his master would not see the truth. He would be discovered dead the next morning entwined with a female skeleton.

More Information
Artist Name Yoshitoshi Tsukioka
Title Botan Doro (The Peony Lantern)
Subject Beauty & Female, Spirits & Religion
Condition Report Backing. Light stains.
Series New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts
Publisher Sasaki Toyokichi