The Achievements of Two Elderly People 

from the Righteous Samurai Collection, 1920

by Kitagami Seijyū

IHL Cat. #2598


The fifth print appearing in Volume 4 of Gishi taikan, edited by Fukumoto Nichinan. 

The stealthy figure holding a spear in this print is Yoshida Chūzaemon 吉田忠左衛門, chief advisor to Ōishi Kuranosuke 大石内蔵助, who, on this snowy evening of December 14, 1703, is reconnoitering Kira's mansion in Honjo, an eastern suburb of Edo, just before the attack begins. The "elderly people" in the print's title references the sixty-four year old Yoshida Chūzaemon and his fellow righteous samurai, sixty-one year old, Onodera Jūnai 小野寺十内, a key senior leader of the group, both of whom were assigned to the rear gate detachment during the attack on the Kira mansion resulting in Kira's assassination.

As summarized by historian John A. Tucker, "En route to Kira's residence, the rōnin were instructed to proceed at an ordinary pace, in small groups of two or three, heading toward the front or rear gates of Kira's mansion. They had been strategically divvied up, with half making entry through the front gate, led by Ōishi, and the other half through the rear, led by Ōishi's son Chikara and a senior rōnin, Yoshida Chūzaemon. Ōishi further divided each group into interior attack forces and peripheral guard forces, thus coordinating duties as systematically as possible for military efficiency. Sketches of the compound were reportedly provided to expedite the search."[1]

Fukumoto's commentary (see below) on this print provide details of the fighting these two men engaged in at Kira's rear gate.

[1]  [The] Forty-Seven Rōnin: The Vendetta in History, John A. Tucker, Cambridge University Press, 2018, p. 85.

Print Details

click on image to enlarge artist signature and seals

click on image to enlarge

Tribute Preceding Print by

Matsura Atsushi

松浦厚 (1864-1934),

politician and poet

from Volume 4 of Gishi Taikan

image source: The Early Japanese Book Portal Database, Art Research Center AkoRH-R0419-4

click on image to enlarge

Print Commentary from Volume 4 of Gishi Taikan


【圖は、吉田忠左衛門が槍を揮つて一人の敵を覘ふ處である, 是より先, 吉良邸を襲へる西部隊の戰士等は何れも館内へ亂入した, 其間を窺ひ二人の敵は長屋の前に現はれて來たので, 小野寺十内は先に進める一人ヾ渡り合ひ,吉田忠左衛門は續く他のv一人に驅合せ, 各々槍を捻つて戰ふここ゚一二合,…十内も亦續いて二ヶ所にて敵に邂逅し每會之に勝つて突伏せたのてある   

image source: The Early Japanese Book Portal

Database, Art Research Center


Artist Profile

undated photo of the artist

Kitagami Seigyū 北上聖牛 (1891-1970)

Kitagami Seigyū was a Nihonga painter born in Hokkaidō. His personal name was Ri’ichirō 利一郎. He used a number of artist names including Hokuzan 北山 and Chiryū 池龍. He was the nephew of painter Kitagami Junzan (Shunzan) 北上峻山 and studied under him and with other painters in his extended family, learning both Western painting (yōga) and Japanese literati painting (nanga). He would move to Kyoto as a young man and in 1913 he began to study under Takeuchi Seihō 竹内栖鳳 (1864-1942), one of the great masters of the Kyoto art world. While in Kyoto he also worked doing kimono dyeing and ceramic overglaze painting. He was particularly proficient at realistic bird-and-flower paintings (kachōga) and landscapes (sansui). He displayed his works in the government sponsored Bunten and the Teiten exhibitions winning prizes at both. After the Pacific War, he mainly exhibited his work in solo exhibitions. He died in December 1969 at the age of 78, working up until his passing.

Sources: website of the Honolulu Museum of Art; website of the Foundation for Culture and Sport Promotion in Hakodate