Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, ‘One Hundred Aspects of the Moon: no. 83, As I am about to enter the ranks of those who disobey, ever more brightly shines, the moon of the summer night -Akashi Gidayu’, ca. 1890, Scholten Japanese Art

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

About Tsukioka Yoshitoshi