Shunkwan left behind

YOSHITOSHI TSUKIOKA: Shunkan left behind on Kikaishima when Yasuyori is Pardoned: 1886

In 1177, when the Taira Clan was at the height of its power, Taira no Kiyomori became convinced that the bonze Shunkan, Tiara no Yasuyori and his friend, Naritsune, were plotting against him, and exiled them to a deserted island, Kikaishima -- Devil's Island. There are a different stories about what followed. In a famous Noh play, Shunkwan, it is held that Yasuyori and Naritsune built a special shrine to their shinto gods, while Shunkan (Shunkwan) ridiculed them for their piety. In a folk tale, it is said that Yasuyori, missing his mother, wrote a series of poems to her on pieces of wood, which he then sent floating off to sea. One floated up at the Miyajima shrine, where a priest found it and showed it to Kiyomori, who determined to pardon Yasuyori and Naritsune. He did not, however, pardon Shunkan, who was left behind on the island.

This scene is most likely based on the parting scene in the Noh play, in which the bonze pleads with the boatman to take him, too, to no avail, and is left on the island, callng after his friends, begging them to work for his release.

Special thanks to Yuriko Hiraguri-Boisvert, without whom I would never have been able to find the story behind this print.

Larger image: 284K.
Yoshitoshi biography.


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