The warrior Inaue Daikurō Masatada (Inoue Daikurō Nagayoshi) discharging a cannon

This print depicts the warrior Inoue Daikurō Nagayoshi, who led a tiny force of Japanese soldiers to victory over an army of 40,000 Chinese warriors during the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s invasion of Korea in the 1590s. Here he aims an enormous cannon, illustrated by Kuniyoshi to emphasize the warrior’s great strength and courage. The peony flower which lies at Nagayoshi’s feet is a Chinese symbol of affluence; perhaps it indicates the Chinese defeat in this battle.

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  • Catalogue text

    Inaue Daikurō, (here Inaue Daikurō Masatada) was a vassal of the Saitō family at the time when Katō Kiyomasa (1562-1622) was called Toranosuke. Daikurō fought with Kimura Matazō (here Shimura Masazō) while Kiyomasa was patrolling Ōmi Nagahama; Kiyomasa reconciled them and they later became his followers. Later, Daikurō achieved much distinction in the battle, including against the Chinese in Korea in 1597. There, he was admired for his remarkable achievement in fighting off a host of more than forty thousand enemies, through his successful use of rifles, and of throwing stones and trees.

    This print shows 'Inaue Daikurō' at this battle, discharging a huge cannon as if it were a gun, his sashimono (war-flag) adorned with a skull.

    In: Impey, Oliver, and Mitsuko Watanabe, Kuniyoshi's Heroes of China and Japan: A Selection of Warriors from Two Series of Prints and a Painting by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798 - 1861), the Suikoden of 1827 and the Taiheki of 1848-9 (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2003)

Further reading

Impey, Oliver, and Mitsuko Watanabe, Kuniyoshi's Heroes of China and Japan: A Selection of Warriors from Two Series of Prints and a Painting by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798 - 1861), the Suikoden of 1827 and the Taiheki of 1848-9 (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2003), no. 13 on p. 11, illus. p. 25 pl. 13

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