Barrier Mountain Path

from the Righteous Samurai Collection, 1920

by Nakamura Gakur

IHL Cat. #2596


The second print appearing in Volume 3 of Gishi taikan, edited by Fukumoto Nichinan.

Ōtaka Gengo Tadao 大高源五忠雄 (1672-1703), one of the faithful samurai of Asano Naganori 浅野長矩, pictured in this print walking stick in hand, was a man of unparalleled loyalty and an expert in military horsemanship, the art of tea drinking and composing hokku (a poetic form connected with the seasons and pre-dating haiku). Prior to the attack on Kira's mansion, where he was wounded, he had gone to Edo under an alias and spied on Kira's household. Using the guise of being a tea master and poet, he learned that Kira was to host a tea ceremony on the 14th day of the 12th month, leading Ōishi to set that date for the attack. 

In 1697 Gengo wrote a travelogue of his sixteen days on the Tōkaidō road as part of Lord Asano Naganori's retinue, returning to Akō from Edo where his lord had fulfilled his obligation to the shogun of sankin kotai under which daimyō spent every other year at the shogun's court in Edo. The travelogue, interlaced with hokku, is simply titled Teichū kikō 丁丑紀行.[1] 

Fukumoto in his commentary on this print quotes from the travelogue, as follows: "On the nineteenth day [of the seventh month] we departed from the ryokan at Seki (the barrier checkpoint at the 48th station on the Tōkaidō) at sunrise and descended with our horses on a mountain road. On the way to the bottom of the hill, the scenery was different. The mountain on the right, Fudesuteyama, Sakanoshita, is said to have been named "Thrown Paintbrush Mountain" by Kohōgen.[2] The appearance of this mountain indicates the presence of the gods and goddesses....  The time is now at the height of autumn, and the mountains in all directions are still weaving their brocade."

[1] Fire-Ox (14th term of the sexagenary cycle or 1697) Travelogue. It was not published until 1858.

[2] Legend has it that Kohōgen Motonobu (Kano Motonobu), a famous sixteenth-century painter, threw away his ink-soaked brush in a rage because he couldn’t adequately capture the beauty of the Fudesuteyama landscape.

Print Details

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artist signature and seal 

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Tribute Preceding Print by

Kaihara Sonken 

南宗派 貝原遜軒

(aka Kawara Sonsai 


 (1781-1826), Confucian scholar, painter, calligrapher

from Volume 3 of Gishi Taikan

image source: The Early Japanese Book Portal Database, Art Research Center AkoRH-R0419-3

click on image to enlarge

Print Commentary from Volume 3 of Gishi Taikan


大高源五の丁丑紀行の 節「十九日關の御旅館を日の出にわかれ出ぬ、山路なれば馬より下りて行く。これより阪の下迄の道すがら、 山のたヾずまひ、風景他に異なり、一の瀬といへる所へ取つく、右の深山を古法眼が筆捨山といふよし。げにも此山の粧ひ神仙のとどまりめべく見ゆ」

image source: The Early Japanese Book Portal

Database, Art Research Center AkoRH-R0419-3 

Artist Profile

Shinchosha Publishing Co, Ltd., c. 1961

Nakamura Gakuryō 中村岳陵 (1890-1969)

Born Nakamura Tsunekichi, in Izu in Shizuoka Prefecture, he studied nihonga (Japanese-style painting) under Kawabe Mitate 川辺御楯 (1838-1905). In 1912 he graduated from the Tokyo School of Fine Arts. As a member of the Kojikai, a circle of innovative young artists, he took part in the movement to establish a new Japanese-style painting. He was a long time a member of the Saiko Nihon Bijutsuin (Reorganized Japan Fine Art Academy), a member of the Japan Art Academy and a leading figure in the Nitten (annual Japan Fine Art Academy exhibition) .  In 1960 he was awarded the prestigious Mainichi and Asahi Shimbun prizes and in 1962 he received the Order of Cultural Merit.  He was particularly interested in the ancient Tosa style (founded in the early Muromachi period,14th–15th centuries) which he infused with Western techniques, ultimately developing a sharp line and expressive sense of color.

Sources: A Dictionary of Japanese Artists: Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics, Prints, Lacquer, Laurance P. Roberts, Weatherhill, 1976 , p. 117; website of Shibunkaku Online Shop