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The king of the Tengus teachig martial arts to Yoshisune

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  1. The king of the Tengus teachig martial arts to Yoshisune Daj Shojobo In the 12th century, Japan was plunged into civil war between the Taira (Heike) and the Minamoto (Genji) clans. While Yoshitsune (1159-1189) was still a child, his family the Minamoto clan was defeated by the Taira clan. In an uncommon act of mercy, Taira no Kiyomori (1118-1181), leader of the Taira, spared the lives of the Minamoto children, who later brought about the downfall of the Taira. Yoshitsune, the youngest of the children, was sent to a temple in the mountains, where according to legend, he was taught the martial arts by goblins called tengu. In this night scene, the king of the tengu, Dai Shojobo, is teaching martial arts to the young Yoshitsune. As the king thrusts forward with a blossom branch Yoshitsune leaps upwards, showering the scene with petals. The red incense burner by the waterfall and the sacred red fungus indicate the king's mystical powers.

  2. The enlightenment of Jigoku-dayu Jigoku-dayu Jigoku-dayu of Takasu was a courtesan adopted by the Zen Priest Ikkyu (1394-1481), who converted her to a religious life and gave her a literary education. She is seated in meditation with a ghostly vision of a procession of the skeletons of a courtesan and her entourage, thus showing her the impermanence of life. Jigoku-dayu is portrayed here as a high-ranking courtesan. Her white robe is embossed with fine key patterns and her outer robe is decorated with the Goddess of Mercy on the front and at the back with scenes of hell.

  3. The duel between Miyomoto Musashi and Tsukahara Bokuden Musashi was a dispossessed samurai who was credited with developing the two-sword method of fighting. Lost in the mountains, Musashi encountered an old man who offered him shelter at his home. When Musashi boasted of his abilities, the old man laughed at him. Musashi became enraged and attacked the old man, who parried every stroke using nothing but a saucepan lid. The old man was none other than TsukaharaBokuden, a legendary swordsman, who eventually taught Musashi the finest points of the art. Bundle

  4. Two brave men on the roof of Horyukaku Birds This diptych illustrates an episode from the epic novel The eight canine heroes of the House of Satomi. The novel recounts the meetings and fantastic adventures of the eight brothers who sprang from the union between the daughter of the Lord of Satomi and the Lord's own dog. When they were babies, the brothers were adopted by different parents. Two of the eight canine heroes, Inukai Kenpachi and Inuzuka Shino, are battling for a precious sword on the rooftop of Horyukaku, a tower of Koga Castle. At this moment, they are unaware that they are brothers. Inukai Kenpachi is defying his brother shown in heroic stance on the lower roof. A flight of startled birds intensifies the drama of the moment.

  5. The story of Umewaka at the Sumida River Blossom According to legend 12-year-old Umewaka was separated from his family during the civil wars of medieval Japan. The boy wandered to the Sumida River and died after composing a poem addressed to the seagulls. He was buried by the river and a temple sprang from his tomb. In this version Umewaka, a brilliant student ran away after failing in competition with another youth. On the shores of Lake Biwa, he was seized by a slave trader, who led him to the Sumida River where the boy died. The white petals of cherry blossoms, which last for only a short time and symbolise the brevity of life, are falling in a stream on Umewaka, who is dressed in the clothes of a temple page.

  6. The death of the rebel leaders in the Battle of the Kumamoto Uprising . Banner The Meiji period was a time of turmoil and tremendous upheaval as Japan was transformed from a medieval to a modern society. The radical social and political changes were accompanied by incessant chaos and civil wars. This print has the immediacy of newspaper reportage of a contemporary event. It illustrates an uprising by a group of discontented samurai who were dispossessed as a result of the reunification and modernisation of Japan after the downfall of the Shogun (military ruler). The revolt was suppressed by imperial forces and the rebel leaders died in battle. Yoshitoshi has adopted and transformed the Western technique of realism and foreshortening into a unique style of Japanese art. It also shows the effective use of the newly imported aniline dyes from the West.

  7. The king of the Tengus teaching martial arts to Yoshisune In the 12th century, Japan was plunged into civil war between the Taira (Heike) and the Minamoto (Genji) clans. While Yoshitsune (1159-1189) was still a child, his family the Minamoto clan was defeated by the Taira clan. In an uncommon act of mercy, Taira no Kiyomori (1118-1181), leader of the Taira, spared the lives of the Minamoto children, who later brought about the downfall of the Taira. Yoshitsune, the youngest of the children, was sent to a temple in the mountains, where according to legend, he was taught the martial arts by goblins called tengu. In this night scene, the king of the tengu, Dai Shojobo, is teaching martial arts to the young Yoshitsune. As the king thrusts forward with a blossom branch Yoshitsune leaps upwards, showering the scene with petals. The red incense burner by the waterfall and the sacred red fungus indicate the king's mystical powers. Incense pot

  8. The suicide of Saigo Takamori Writing Set In an open boat on a stormy sea, SaigoTakamori (1827-77), a samurai from Satsuma, is sitting cross-legged. He is accompanied by two retainers. In 1868 the Tokugawa Shogunate (military government) had been overthrown and power restored to the Emperor. As his own conservative attitude clashed with the new government's policy of modernisation and reform, Saigo withdrew to his native Satusuma. In January of 1877 his supporters started a revolt against the government and SaigoTakamori felt obliged to lead them. After seven months of intense fighting the revolt was put down and Saigo committed ritual suicide (seppuku or disembowelment) on a hill in Kagoshima on 24 September 1877. This print is based on the first report that he had committed suicide after trying to escape by sea.

  9. The enlightenment of Jigoku-dayu Lamp Jigoku-dayu of Takasu was a courtesan adopted by the Zen Priest Ikkyu (1394-1481), who converted her to a religious life and gave her a literary education. She is seated in meditation with a ghostly vision of a procession of the skeletons of a courtesan and her entourage, thus showing her the impermanence of life. Jigoku-dayu is portrayed here as a high-ranking courtesan. Her white robe is embossed with fine key patterns and her outer robe is decorated with the Goddess of Mercy on the front and at the back with scenes of hell.

  10. The story of Umewaka at the Sumida River Umewaka According to legend 12-year-old Umewaka was separated from his family during the civil wars of medieval Japan. The boy wandered to the Sumida River and died after composing a poem addressed to the seagulls. He was buried by the river and a temple sprang from his tomb. In this version Umewaka, a brilliant student ran away after failing in competition with another youth. On the shores of Lake Biwa, he was seized by a slave trader, who led him to the Sumida River where the boy died. The white petals of cherry blossoms, which last for only a short time and symbolise the brevity of life, are falling in a stream on Umewaka, who is dressed in the clothes of a temple page.

  11. The king of the Tengus teachig martial arts to Yoshisune Yoshitsune In the 12th century, Japan was plunged into civil war between the Taira (Heike) and the Minamoto (Genji) clans. While Yoshitsune (1159-1189) was still a child, his family the Minamoto clan was defeated by the Taira clan. In an uncommon act of mercy, Taira no Kiyomori (1118-1181), leader of the Taira, spared the lives of the Minamoto children, who later brought about the downfall of the Taira. Yoshitsune, the youngest of the children, was sent to a temple in the mountains, where according to legend, he was taught the martial arts by goblins called tengu. In this night scene, the king of the tengu, Dai Shojobo, is teaching martial arts to the young Yoshitsune. As the king thrusts forward with a blossom branch Yoshitsune leaps upwards, showering the scene with petals. The red incense burner by the waterfall and the sacred red fungus indicate the king's mystical powers.

  12. The story of Umewaka at the Sumida River Slave Trader According to legend 12-year-old Umewaka was separated from his family during the civil wars of medieval Japan. The boy wandered to the Sumida River and died after composing a poem addressed to the seagulls. He was buried by the river and a temple sprang from his tomb. In this version Umewaka, a brilliant student ran away after failing in competition with another youth. On the shores of Lake Biwa, he was seized by a slave trader, who led him to the Sumida River where the boy died. The white petals of cherry blossoms, which last for only a short time and symbolise the brevity of life, are falling in a stream on Umewaka, who is dressed in the clothes of a temple page.

  13. A woman saving the Nation In the sumptuous interior of folding screens and lacquer furniture, the Shogun (military ruler) Tsunayoshi is fast asleep. He is dreaming of his favourite concubine, Oyanagi no Okata who is shown superimposed over the scene and filling the right panel. Behind him in the left panel his wife Osame holds a dagger. The Shogun is unaware that his concubine's father Yanagisawa, the Lord of Dewa, has been plotting to overthrow him. But his wife has discovered the plot, and is courageously planning to kill the concubine's father and then kill herself in order to save the nation and her husband. Steamer

  14. Kobayakawa Takakage debating with the goblin priest (Tengu) on Mount Hiko Tengu Priest KobayakawaTakakage (1553-1597) was a retainer of the daimyo(feudal lord) ToyotomiHideyoshi (1536-1598), who rose in power in the period 1582-1598 during his military quests to reunify Japan. Takakage led several successful military campaigns and became Hideyoshi's chief minister. During the conquest of northern Kyushu in the 1580s he camped on the slopes of the sacred Mount Hiko. Legend has it that a wind suddenly arose and before him appeared a long-nosed goblin (tengu) dressed in the garb of a mountain priest (yamabushi). Here, as the wind parts the mist, we see Takakage's followers overcome with fear and astonishment as the general (dressed in green) and the goblin begin their dialogue.

  15. Cho Jun, the white splash in the waves, wrestling in the river with Riki, the black whirlwind Fish Cho Jun, nicknamed the White Splash, and RiKi, the Black Whirlwind, were among the 108 outlaw heroes of the 13th-century Chinese novel The heroes of the waterfront. RiKi, a river pirate, had attempted to steal fish, but was interrupted by Cho Jun, the owner of the local fish-market, who challenged him to fight. Cho Jun was reputed to be able to walk under water for 10 miles and to live at the bottom of the river for seven days and nights. RiKi accepted the challenge and they fought under water. The fight is echoed in the dramatic scene tattooed on Cho Jun's body showing an eagle grasping a monkey with its claws under a layer of autumn maple leaves.

  16. Theatrical scene: the cat-spectre in the old temple Note In this scene from the kabuki play The Last Story of the Actor OnoeKikugoro (originally known as Solitary Journey in the Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido), the curtains are parted to reveal a gigantic cat-demon linked by a curving spirit trail to the apparition, indicated by the spirit fire, in the right panel. Here, the cat-demon has manifested itself as an old witch, who is appearing with the ghost of the courtesan Usugumo. The cat-demon was once the mother of the courtesan Usugumo, who had previously been the lover of the samurai Inabanosuke, who is seated at the centre. In the temple, the ghost of the courtesan killed the samurai's wife, whose curse she believed had led to her own murder. Japan has many legends of cat sorcery, in which the cat-demon possesses the supernatural power to assume human form and bewitch people.