The Lonely House on the Adachi Fields in Mutsu Province

An untitled set of vertical diptychs by Yoshitoshi


Title The Lonely House on the Adachi Fields in Mutsu Province Ōshū Adachigahara hitotsuya no zu 奥州安達がはらひとつ家の図
Series title An untitled set of vertical diptychs by Yoshitoshi
Artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi 月岡芳年 (1839–1892)
Date 9/1885
Publisher Matsui Eikichi (Kakuhakudō) 松井栄吉 (画博堂)
Woodcarver Negishi Naoyama 根岸直山
City Tokyo
Signature ōju Yoshitoshi ga 応需芳年画
Artist seal Yoshitoshi 芳年
Blockcutter’s (and/or) printer’s) seal(s) Naoyama chōkoku 直山彫刻
Technique & material Woodblock print; full colour print; pigment on paper
Format ōban
Object number SH2018-DM-134
Credit Line Gift of Muck and Mieke Douma
Provenance Gifted to the Japan Museum SieboldHuis in April 2018 by Muck and Mieke Douma


From a set of at least 15 historical subjects in the vertical diptych format. This format is sometimes referred to as kakemono-e (hanging scroll pictures), because of its elongated shape that is suitable for hanging scroll mountings.

There are several version of the story that was the basis for this gruesome print, of which the most well-known goes as follows. A wet nurse who cares for a young, sickly princess is order to search for a remedy for the young child, which requires the liver of a newborn baby. Abandoning her own daughter, she ventures out seeking a willing donor. After months of searching without success, the desperate wet nurse decides to lie in waiting in an old abandoned house on the Adachi Fields in Mutsu Province. It was common for pregnant women to return to their hometown for the birth of their child, and eventually she sees a very young pregnant woman traveling on the path near the house. The wet nurse ambushes her and kills her, only to realise it was her own daught. Her terrible deed drives her mad and she transforms into an onibaba (old demon woman) who, full of rage and sorrow, haunts the Adachi Fields, in search of new victims.