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This is a fictional episode in the life of the popular tragic hero Minamoto no Yoshitsune (1159–1189). While still known by his childhood name of Ushiwaka, he left Kurama Temple outside of Kyoto, where he was supposed to train for the priesthood. He joined the armed caravan of a wealthy gold merchant, Kinbai Kichiji, who was traveling to Mutsu in northern Japan. The notorious bandit Kumasaka Chōhan planned to rob Kichiji. With his large band of outlaws he attacked the inn where the merchant’s men had stopped for the night. Owing to the swordsmanship skills of Ushiwaka, the attackers were repulsed, and the outlaw chieftain and dozens of his henchmen were slain.
One of the attackers holds a lantern that illuminates Ushiwaka and Kumasaka. The flailing bodies and turbulent melee attest to the ferocity of the fight.
(Jerry Vegder, Prints of Japan, Port Townsend, Washington); purchased by the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2010.