Art Meets Taboo in the Tradition of Japanese Tattoos
This is the last print in the Hundred Aspects of the Moon series relating to the Sengoku period (1467-1603) conflicts between Akechi Mistuhide (1528-1582) and Daimyo Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582). After Nobunaga's assassination, Mitsuhide instructs General Akashi Gidayu, pictured in the composition, to head off Nobunaga's army before it reached Kyoto and could avenge the daimyo’s death. However, Gidayu was defeated and resolved to commit seppuku (ritual suicide) to restore his honor. Seppuku was an honor reserved for upper class men, relieving themselves from either death by the common executioner or living with an unbearable sense of shame. Although Mitsuhide, preferring to keep a valuable retainer alive, ordered Gidayu otherwise, the determined general completed the ritual. Yoshitoshi depicts Gidayu moments before the act, intensely focused on composing his death poem.
Series: One Hundred Aspects of the Moon
Image rights: Scholten Japanese Art
Publisher: Akiyama Buemon
John Stevenson, Yoshitoshi's One Hundred Aspects of the Moon, 2001, cat. no. 83
Japanese, 1839-1892, Edo, Japan, based in Japan