Siebold’s Primrose – Beishō [Ichikawa Kodanji IV] as Asakura Tōgo

Comparisons of Beautiful Standing Flowers


Title Siebold’s Primrose – Beishō [Ichikawa Kodanji IV] as Asakura Tōgo Sakurasō Asakura Tōgo Beishō 櫻そう 朝倉当吾 米升
Series title Comparisons of Beautiful Standing Flowers 美立花くらへ
Artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi 月岡芳年 (1839–1892)
Date 8/1861
Play Sakura sōshi gonichi no bundan
Theatre Morita
Publisher Kakumotoya Kinjirō 角本屋金次郎
City Edo
Signature Gyokurō Yoshitoshi hitsu 玉櫻芳年筆
Artist seal paulownia
Censorship seal(s) aratame, Rooster 8 改酉八
Publisher’s seal(s) Kaku-Kin 角金
Technique & material Woodblock print; full colour print; pigment on paper
Format ōban
Object number SH2018-DM-119
Credit Line Schenking Muck en Mieke Douma
Provenance In april 2018 geschonken aan Japanmuseum SieboldHuis door Muck en Mieke Douma


The print makes a pun on the name of the play, Sakura sōshi gonichi no bundan. The play takes its name after the protagonist, based on the historical figure Kiuchi Sōgo (1605–1653), who was a farmer in the Sakura Domain (present-day Chiba Prefecture). In this mitate (playful comparison), Yoshitoshi pairs Ichikawa Kodanji IV (who used the poetry name Beishō) in his role of Asakura Tōgo, a pseudonym for Sōgo, with the plant depicted in the background. This is Siebold's primrose (Primula sieboldii), which in Japanese is called sakurasō (cherry blossom weed) for its likeliness to cherry blossom when in bloom.

Kodanji performed the role in the Morita theatre in the eighth month of 1861, the same time this print was issued. Publishing kabuki prints on the occasion of new performances was a common marketing strategy.