しのび 加藤段蔵 (Shinobi Series : Danzo Kato)

Designer: Ayumi Shiba

Paper size: 38.5cm by 28cm | Enlargement | Shipping Code: [L] ? | Currency: $ / £ /

Price: $ 100.00£ 80.00€ 92.00

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Description: Ayumi Shiba is one of the young ladies working at Mokuhankan in Tokyo, in multiple capacities: she works in the shop helping explain the prints to visitors; she hosts the Print Parties; and she works as a staff printer, creating work to be sold to customers and subscribers.

But she also moonlights ... as a modern printmaker, and this print is one of her creations - from concept, through design, and all the carving and printing ... herself.

Shiba-san's comments:

Shinobi Series

It was during the Warring States period of Japanese history that the Shinobi more commonly known as ninja these days) were active. They served the daimyo (the leaders of each area), with one of their most important functions being to infiltrate enemy clans and return with their information, making use of a repertoire of techniques known in general as ninjutsu. This Shinobi series will introduce some of these shinobi, and their (perhaps apocryphal) stories.

Danzo Kato

Danzo’s ability to smoothly leap over moats and fences gave him the nickname Tobi Kato (Flying Kato). There are many stories told about his feats, with perhaps the most famous being dongyu no jutsu. Performing in front of a street crowd one day, he announced that he would ‘drink a bull’. Covering the animal with a large black cloth, he caused it to disappear, and a moment later the crowd heard a lowing sound from his belly. But one man perched in a nearby tree called down that it was ‘just a trick’.

Danzo took this in stride, and taking some seeds from his clothing, sprinkled them on the ground, where they immediately sprouted, growing quickly into a flowering bottle gourd plant. Taking out his sword, he sliced off the flower, and at that same moment, the head of the man in the tree was severed.

The point of such performances was to demonstrate his skills to potential daimyo employers. Summoned by Uesugi Kenshin, one such daimyo, Danzo was tasked with a test - to sneak into the castle of one his retainers and steal a famous halberd kept there. This was so easy for Danzo that during the course of the mission, he also killed a guard dog to keep it quiet, and abducted the female servant of the retainer’s wife.

Danzo was thus taken into Uesugi’s service but as time went by, realizing that his position was in danger (he feared that he would be assassinated because he was too skillful and thus dangerous) he visited Takeda Shingen, one of the most powerful daimyo in the land, in an attempt to transfer his loyalties.

But either from fear of his extraordinary skills, or suspicion that he would be a double agent, Shingen had him beheaded by one of his vassals.

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