Buncho woodblock print

Ippitsusai Buncho, (fl. ca. 1755-90)
woodblock print

Bando Matataro IV as Soga no Juro

depicting Sogo no Juro with plover pattern on his robe; from the play Shuen Soga Omugaeshi performed at the Ichimura Theatre 1/1768; signed Ippitsusai Buncho ga, with publisher's mark of Enomotoya Kichibei, and with collector's seal of Wakai Kenzaburo at upper right, ca. 1768

hosoban 12 1/2 by 5 7/8 in., 31.8 by 15 cm


Buncho woodblock print

Ippitsusai Buncho, (fl. ca. 1755-90) print

Otani Hiroji III as III as Kudo Suketsune

the actor identified by the shimazumon, holding katana and fan; from the play Shuen Soga Omugaeshi performed at the Ichimura theatre 1/1768; signed Ippitsusai Buncho ga, with collector's seal of Wakai Kenzaburo, ca. 1768

hosoban 12 3/4 by 5 5/8 in., 32.5 by 14.2 cm


The Soga Monogatari ('Tales of the Soga') is based on historical events which took place in the late 12th century. In 1172, Kudo Saemon Suketsune arranged the murder of his cousin, Kozu Saburo Sukemichi, in order to clear the way for an inheritance. Eighteen years later in 1193, Sukemichi's two sons, Juro Sukenari (1172-93) and Goro Tokimune (1174-93) carried out a daring night attack on Suketsune while he was with a hunting party lead by the Shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147-99) which was camped near Mt. Fuji. Although the brothers succeeded in their vendetta, the older brother, Juro, was killed and the younger brother Goro, was captured. Although Yoritomo admired the loyalty of the two brothers, he was forced to execute Goro to appease Suketsune's son.

The story of the brave young men was celebrated and expanded in literature, drama and art. By the Edo Period it was one of the most popular kabuki themes; it was so reliable by the late 18th century all three major kabuki theaters in Edo would stage a version of the Soga Monogatari simultaneously for the New Year performance. Although individual productions would vary somewhat, the basic storyline and the iconography of the major characters was established: Soga no Goro was usually identified by a butterfly pattern on his robes; Soga no Juro by chidori (plovers); and the villian, Kudo Suketsune, was identified by his iori-mokko mon ('bird's nest in a hut' crest).


Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays by appointment only

Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit between 11am and 4pm preferably for no more than two individuals at a time.
Visitors are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing at their discretion.

site last updated
October 28, 2021

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475