The Loyal Retainers and Hosoi Kōtaku 

from the Righteous Samurai Collection, 1920

by Shimada Bokusen

IHL Cat. #2376


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

On the evening of the day before the raid, the Righteous Samurai secretly gathered at Horibe Yasubei's 堀部安兵衛 home. Hosoi Kōtaku 細井広沢 (1658-1736), the Confucian scholar, calligrapher, and Horibe's friend who compiled his Written Records*, was also there. During the evening they discussed their plans, which included setting fire to Lord Kira's mansion and disemboweling themselves, if their plan did not work. On the night of the raid, Kōtaku climbed up on his roof looking for a fire at Kira's mansion which was near his home. Seeing no flames he knew they succeeded and went back inside. Later that night Horibe pounds on his door calling out "We have taken our revenge. We are on our way to Sengakuji. I will never forget your kindness even after my death." Hearing this Kōtaku dashes out his door barefoot, without putting on his hakama [skirt-like pants]. Catching up with the avengers in the middle of Eitai Bridge, he bid each of them farewell. ​ 

* A compilation of correspondence mainly between Horibe Yasubei and other Akō men in Edo and Ōishi and others in Akō and Kyoto, with some explanations, by Hosoi Kōtaku.

Source: Genroku kaikyoroku, Fukumoto Nichinan, Keiseisha, 1910, chapter 238 [my translation].

Print Details

click on image to enlarge artist signature and seals 

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Tribute Preceding Print by


Iwatani Shōsen (1852-1943)


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


image source: The Early Japanese Book Portal

Database, Art Research Center


Artist Profile

Shimada Bokusen 島田墨仙 (1867-1943)

Shimada Bokusen, born Shimada Toyo (Yutaka) 島田豊, was the son and pupil of Maruyama school painter Shimada Sekkoku 島田雪谷 (1826-1884), a retainer of the Fukui fief in Echizen. Bokusen was to go on to study with Hashimoto Gahō 橋本雅邦 (1835-1908) a Kanō school painter who was instrumental in the development of a new type of national painting called nihonga. He was a member of the Nihon Bijutsuin (Japan Art Institute) and in 1925 became a committee member of the Teiten (Imperial Academy of Fine Arts). In 1942 he received the Imperial Art Academy Prize. He specialized in portraits of historical figures, working in a revived yamato-e style.

Shimada taught Japanese-style painting to several Western artists including Henry P. Bowie (1848-1920), author of On the Laws of Japanese Painting, and the well known painter and printmaker Lillian May Miller who "greatly admired Bokusen for his support and his personality, writing, 'He's so keen and full of vitality, and yet so clean and quiet and sweet-natured."

For a biography of the artist go to Shimada Bokusen 島田墨仙 (1867-1943) 

Sources: A Dictionary of Japanese Artists: Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics, Prints, Lacquer, Laurance P. Roberts, Weatherhill, 1976, p. 147; quote taken from "Lilian Miller: An American Artist in Japan" by Kendall H. Brown appearing in Impressions, No. 27 (2005-2006), p. 82.