Ishikawa Goemon being boiled alive


Title Ishikawa Goemon being boiled alive
Artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi 歌川国芳 (1797–1861)
Date 1/1851
Play Kinoshita Soga megumi no masagoji 木下曽我恵☆路
Theatre Nakamura
Publisher Yamaguchiya Tōbei (Kinkōdō) 山口屋藤兵衛 (錦耕堂)
City Edo
Signature Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga 一勇齋國芳画
Artist seal paulownia
Censorship seal(s) Magome, Hama
Publisher’s seal(s) To Yamaguchi ト山口
Technique & material Woodblock print; full colour print; pigment on paper
Format ōban triptych
Object number SH2018-DM-234
Credit Line Gift of Muck and Mieke Douma
Provenance Gifted to the Japan Museum SieboldHuis in April 2018 by Muck and Mieke Douma


Right sheet: Arashi Otohachi III as Yamakaze Hirama (山風平馬), Bandō Takesaburō IV as Itsuya Tōji (逸弥藤次), and Bandō Hikosaburō IV as Iwaki Tōma (岩木當馬)

Centre sheet: Ichikawa Kodanji IV as Ishikawa Goemon (石川五右衛門), and Seki Kasuke as his son Gorōichi (倅五郎市)

Left sheet: Onoe Kikujirō II as Oritsu (おりつ) en Morita Kan’ya XI as Iwaki Hyōbu (岩木兵部)

Ishikawa Goemon (1558–1594) was a semi-legendary outlaw folk hero who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. He and his son were sentenced to being boiled alive after he made a failed attempt to assassinate the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi. According to popular legend, he managed to save his son by holding the boy above his head while he endured the boiling water for as long as possible. This heroic deed inspired his executioners to spare the boy. Goemon was an often-recurring character in popular theatre and literature.