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Utagawa Kunisada (aka Toyokuni III), Japanese, (1786–1864)
kabuki triptych (Jiraiya gotetsu monogatari), 1852
Ink on paper
14 1/4 in. x 29 5/8 in. (36.2 cm x 75.25 cm)

Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Period: Edo, Late (1789-1868)
Credit Line: Purchased with funds from the Aoki Endowment for Japanese Arts and Cultures
Accession Number: 2010.1.45

Alternate Title: The Tale of the Gallant Jiraiya

The Tale of the Gallant Jiraiya (Japanese: Jiraiya Gōketsu Monogatari) is a folk tale about Jiraiya, a ninja from Kyushu who used shapeshifting magic to transform into a giant toad. His arch-rival was Yashagorō, a master of serpent magic, also known as Orochimaru. The story was adapted into a serial novel (1839 to 1868) and a popular Kabuki play. In his triptych of a scene from the Kabuki play, Kunisada shows Jiraiya on the right and Otsuna (his love interest or sister, depending on the version of the story), who has mastered slug magic, on the left. In the center, in front of a giant toad, is the hermit and magician Senso Dōjin, who trained Jiraiya in toad magic. Before them are a snake, a toad and a slug. The tale and its characters have more recently been featured in several films, video games, manga and anime, including Naruto.

- Meher McArthur, January 7, 2021

Signed: Toyokuni ga on red background in yellow tosidama cartouche

Object Description
Triptych depicting a scene from the kabuki play Jiraiya goketsu monogatari (The Heroic Tales of Jiraiya).

Left panel: Iwai Kumesaburo III as the heroine Kairiki Otsuna
Center panel: Ichikawa Ebizo V as the hermit Senso Dojin. A giant toad looms above him.
Right panel: Ichikawa Danjuro VIII as the hero Jiraiya

In order to defeat their enemy, the snake demon-possessed Orochimaru, Otsuna must master the magic of the slug and Jiraiya must master the magic of the giant toad. After their mentor Senso Dojin teaches them these secret arts, the two depart on their quest to avenge the deaths of their respective families.

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