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Nōgaku hyakuban, Hashi Benkei


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Hashi Benkei 橋弁慶

(Benkei on the Bridge)

No. 31 from the series Nōgaku hyakuban

by Tsukioka Kōgyo, 1923

Nōgaku hyakuban, Yōkihi

IHL Cat. #821

About This Print

Print No. 31 of 120 prints issued as part of the series Nōgaku hyakuban (One Hundred Prints of Noh), depicting a scene from the play Hashi Benkei, by an unknown playwright.   In this scene a full moon illuminates the warrior-monk Benkei standing on the bridge, holding a naginata (halbert with curved, single-sided blade).  This print was originally released by the publisher Matsuki Heikichi in the eleventhinstallment of prints in this series.  This series' prints were offered in monthly installments consisting of three prints packaged in an envelope with additional descriptive information.1 

The Play - Hashi Benkei

Source: The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010, p. 170
The warrior-monk Musashibō Benkei (shite) announces his intention to go to a shrine in the capital's fifth ward late in the evening.  His retainer attempts to dissuade him, saying that a youth has been attacking passerby on the Gojō Bridge at night.  Benkei decides to subdue the young man and leaves.  At the bridge, the youth Ushiwaka (kokata) proclaims that this is the last night that he will come to the bridge, since, in accordance with his mother's wishes, he will return to the Jurama Temple (Kurumadera) the next day to continue his studies.  He waits on the bridge with a square of silk over his head and shoulders.  Benkei mistakes him for a woman and walks by him.  Ushiwaka then trows off the silk covering and challenges the warrior-monk.  The two engage in a fierce fight and Benkei is eventually defeated.  They reveal their identities, and Benkei vows to become Ushiwaka's faithful retainer.

1 “The series Nogaku hyakuban (100 No plays) by Tsukioka Kogyo (1869-1927),” Claus-Peter Schulz, Andon 67, Society for Japanese Arts, p. 28.

Noh Performance of Hashi Benkei, February 1965
Courtesy of Karen Brazell; all rights reserved.
Copyright 1998-2008, Global Performing Arts Consortium. All Rights Reserved.

One of Five Prints from The Lavenberg Collection

loaned to the Portland Art Museum for the exhibition

"Legendary Samurai" September 14, 2013 to January 12, 2014

月岡耕漁画 能学百番・橋弁慶

Tsukioka K
(Japanese, 1869–1927)

Benkei on the Bridge
From One Hundred Noh Plays
Color woodblock print
Lent by The Lavenberg Collection of Japanese Prints

In this hauntingly beautiful print, Tsukioka Kōgyo presents us with anotherperspective on Yoshitsune’s first fateful encounter with Benkei. His portrayalof the solitary and brooding figure of Benkei, swathed in voluminous robes andwearing a hooded cowl, is inspired by the Noh play Benkei on the Bridge.

Tsukioka Kōgyo was the adopted son and pupil ofTsukioka Yoshitoshi, who is represented in this exhibition by eleven prints.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #821
 Title Hashi Benkei 橋弁慶 (Benkei on the Bridge)
 Series Nōgaku hyakuban 能楽百番 (One Hundred Prints of Noh or One Hundred Noh Plays)
 Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)
Kōgyo, seal no. 35, p. 171 in The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010.
 Date May 1923
 Edition first
Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya)
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - small paper loss in top left corner; slight toning
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Miscellaneous print number 31 contained in envelope 11
 Format oban tate-e
 H x W Paper 14 7/8 x 10 in. (37.8 x 25.4 cm)
 Collections This Print Scripps College 2007.1.69; Art Institute of Chicago 1943.834.19
 Reference Literature The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010, p. 106.