Item from the Mokuhankan Flea Market

The Ghost of Yotsuya

Size: 35.0cm by 24.0cm (13.78 in by 9.45 in) | Enlargement | Shipping Code: [L] ?

Designer: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Era: | Currency: $ / £ /

Price: ¥ 40,000$ 365.00£ 255.00€ 299.00 [Item has been sold]

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Description: "Yotsuya Kaidan" is probably the most famous classical Japanese horror story. While some Japanese people may not know the whole story, they will probably at least have heard of the title or the main character, "Oiwa-san".

There are several versions of "Yotsuya Kaidan", but this is one of the most famous versions: Oiwa-san's husband Iemon secretly kills her father after an argument. Without knowing the cause of her father's death, Oiwa becomes pregnant and has a baby. Meanwhile, Ito Kihei, who knows Iemon has a wife, nevertheless asks Iemon to marry his granddaughter, Ome. If Iemon marries Ome, Iemon could score a nice job promotion, so he accepts Kihei's offer.

Iemon entices Oiwa to drink a poisonous medicine prepared by Kihei. As a result, her hair begins to fall out while she combs it, and, shocked, she turns around, revealing her melted and scarred face. In her fury she doesn't realise that her husband was behind the evil plot, and dies, unable to live any longer with her disfigured face. Iemon ties her dead body to a shoji screen and throws it into a river. Iemon and Ome marry, but Iemon is horrified when he sees Oiwa's face on Ome and Oiwa's father's face on Kihei. In his madness, he kills them both.

Usually, illustrations of this story depict the most famous scene - Oiwa revealing her disfigured face - or maybe the cruel scene in which her dead body is tied to a shoji screen. This one, however, is unusual in that it depicts Oiwa playing with her newborn baby. At first the scene looks peaceful, but hints of the tragic developments to come are also visible. A piece of green cloth resembling a snake dangles from a screen, symbolising the poison which will kill Oiwa in a future scene. Another foreboding symbol is the yellow piece of clothing worn by the baby, given to Oiwa as a gift together with the poison. This tells the viewer that the poison is already somewhere in the room...

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