Midnight moon at Mount Yoshino: Iga No Tsubone

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi
1839 - 1892
Midnight moon at Mount Yoshino: Iga No Tsubone
Yoshinoyama yahan tsuki, Iga No Tsubone
1886
Nishiki-e
365 x 244 mm

The print depicts the fearless court Lady Iga no Tsubone who confronts the ghost of Kiyotaka. She was able to appease it, and it never appeared again.

This print was inspired by the following historical event in 1336 when the Emperor Go-Daigo (1288-1339) was advised by Sasaki Kiyotaka, a courtier with little military experience, to fight the rebelling forces of Ashikaga Takauji (1305-58), Kusunoki Masashige (1294-1336) opposed this advice, but Kiyotaka's view prevailed. During the ensuing battle of Minatogawa, Masashige was beaten and committed suicide. Consequently the Emperor was forced to flee to his retreat on mount Yoshino and Kiyotaka was ordered to commit suicide, After the death his ghost began to haunt the Emperor. Masashige's daughter-in-law, Iga no Tsubone, who was known for her strong character, confronted the ghost of the man who had caused her father-in-law's suicide and managed to drive him off. lga no Tsubone had already distinguished herself by uprooting a tree in order to cross the river Yoshinogawa, which she did while carrying the Empress Renshi on her back It is hardly surprising, therefore, that she was credited with driving away Kiyotaka's malevolent ghost.

The excellence of this design is determined by two factors: first, Yoshitoshi's depiction of Kiyotaka's winged ghost; and secondly, the striking figure of Iga no Tsubone in her voluminous red court robe, its length emphasized by her long black hair. Even among Yoshitoshi's varied oeuvre, there are few prints that equal the impact this design has on the viewer.


Woodblock print, nishiki-e
Vertical ōban, 365 x 244 mm
Signed: Yoshitoshi, and red artist’s seal Yoshitoshi no in
Publisher: Akiyama Buemon
Series: One Hundred Aspects of the Moon
Tsuki hyakushi
Fine impression with karazuri; very good colour and condition, full margins.

Another impression of the print is at the British Museum, number 1906,1220,0.1441.