The actor Bandō Hikosaburō as the courier Otohei

The figures in this triptych [see EA1983.70] are all couriers, or postmen, identifiable by their distinctive black gloves and gaiters. The couriers stand in front of a shrine that houses the rat-ghost of the wicked priest Raigō, who has been casting evil spells on the people of Japan. The ruler Yoritomo has fallen ill under the spell of the rat; he offers a large reward for the delivery of a special silver cat figure he wishes to place in his sickroom in order to drive out the evil spirit. The parcel at the centre of this print contains this silver cat: all three couriers are vying with each other to deliver the parcel.

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nishiki-e

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