One Hundred Tales of China and Japan: Minamoto Yorimitsu Ason
(Wakan hyakumonogatari: Minamoto Yorimitsu Ason)
signed Ikkaisai Yoshitoshi ga, with publisher's seal Tsukiji Daikin (Daikokuya Kinnosuke), and combined censor and date seal Ushi-ni, aratame (year of the ox , 2nd lunar month, examined)
oban tate-e 14 3/8 by 10 in., 36.4 by 25.6 cm
The following text is inscribed:
Minamoto Yorimitsu Ason arutoshi yamai no yukani fushitarishini kyoni joshiteya yokai araware shibashiba osowaretamaishiga arutoki matamo yokaino meni saegirishito mirumamonaku fushigiya haito onozuto nukeide kono yobutsu o tsunzakitari. Kinshino menmen hasetsuke mireba, ito susamajiki tsuchigumo naritozo. Kumokirimaru wa sunawachi korenari.
Bokuto Ryoko ki
While Minamoto Yorimitsu Ason, a retainer at the palace, lay ill in bed, demons took advantage of the situation, appearing at his bedside and attacking him. One particular demon came into his sight; amazingly, as soon as this happened, his short sword unsheathed itself and pierced the creature. His bodyguards rushed to the scene and discovered a dead tsuchigumo, earth spider. For this reason the sword was nicknamed Kumokirimaru, spider killer.
written by Bokuto Ryoko
Minamoto Yorimitsu (948-1021), also known as Raiko, holds the hilt of his sword kumokirimaru (lit. 'spider cutting sword') while staring down the fearsome tsuchigumo ('earth spider'). Yorimitsu was a warrior who in his capacity as a commander of a regiment of the Imperial Guard is credited with subduing the bandits of Oeyama, among other military accomplishments. However, legend reimagined his foes as demons and other fantastical creature, including the earth spider. There are many variations of this story. In some retellings, the spider approaches Yorimitsu in the form of a priest, and through a series of incantations attempts to catch the warrior in his web. In others, the tsuchigumo is massive, with each leg the size of a man. While the spider of this depiction is far smaller, it is certainly a no less dangerous foe.
Highlights of Japanese Printmaking: Part Five - Yoshitoshi, Scholten Japanese Art, New York, 2017, cat. no. 9
Roger Keyes, Courage and Silence, 1983, p. 358, no. 134.11
Eric van den Ing & Robert Schaap, Beauty and Violence, 1992, p. 100, no. 10.11
John Stevenson, Yoshitoshi's Strange Tales, 2005, p. 58, no. 15 (cartouche text)
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site last updated
October 14, 2021
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