Natori Shunsen


New Versions of Figures on the Stage: Actor Kataoka Nizeamon XIII as Momoi Wakasanosuke
(Shinpan butai no sugata-e: Kataoka Nizeamon, Momoi Wakasanosuke)

with mica backgroud, signed Shunsen with artist's seal Shunsen, publisher's seal Watanabe (Watanabe Shozaburo), ca. 1953

dai oban tate-e 15 1/2 by 10 5/8 in., 39.5 by 27 cm

The actor Kataoka Nizaemon XIII (1903-1994) is in the role Momoi Wakasanosuke from the play Kanadehon Chushingura (The Treasury of Loyal Retainers), commonly known as The Forty-Seven Ronin. Based on historical events which commenced in 1701, this legendary drama set centuries earlier in 1338 tells the story of forty-seven master-less samurai who conspire to avenge the enforced seppuku (ritual suicide) of their lord, Enya Hangan. Wakasanosuke, a young and fiery warrior, is notably not one of the loyal ronin. Rather, he shares rank with Hangan and the evil Lord Kata Moronao and plays an integral role in facilitating the conflict between the two.

Often the victim of disrespect at the hands of Moronao, Wakasanosuke observes his adversary coming on to Hangan's wife. Though they come short of blows, Wakasanosuke departs, intent on killing Moronao the next time the lord insults him. His retainers, prevent Wakasanosuke from following through with this promise by offering gifts to Moronao in the hopes of forcing Moronao to express a shamefully public change of heart regarding Wakasanosuke's character. Moronao accepts the gifts, and obediently prostrates in front of his would-be enemy. This false expression of good faith is quite unpleasant for Moronao, who promises to himself that he will unleash a monstrous insult on the next person who crosses his path. As it happens, it is Enya Hangan who next comes around the corner. In the following tragic scene, Moronao's outrageous provocations breaks the usually even-tempered Hangan. Hangan draws his sword and strikes at Moronao, the crime for which he commits seppuku.

Aubrey S. and Giovanna M. Halford, The Kabuki Handbook, 1956, pp. 138-147 (re: play)
Yamaguchi Keizoro, Shunsen Natori Exhibition Catalogue, Kushigata, 1991, no. 76
Kozo Yamada, Shunsen Natori: Collection of the Kushigata Shunsen Museum of Art, 2002, p. 52, cat. no. 75
Honolulu Museum of Art (, object no. 27512

price: $1,800


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
May 25, 2023

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