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Kitano Tsunetomi

Created as part of a 200th anniversary project to commemorate the poet Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653-1724) which consisted of 15 volumes of his plays being reproduced, accompanied by a supplement of prints over the course of three years, 1922-25. This print depicts Umegawa from the final act of the play, The Courier from Hell (1711).

The play tells the story of Chubei, the adopted son of a money courier who steals finances to buy his lover (Umegawa) out of a brothel contract. Chubei is assigned to move money for wealthy patrons, which he is tempted to use to break the contract. He makes the decision to steal 300 gold coins from a samurai, a crime punishable by death in Edo period Japan. As soon as the contract is bought out, Umegawa and Chubei flee to the mountains, where treacherous weather forces them to decide whether to return or continue. Death comes to them as they walk into the snow.

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