Theatrical scene: the cat-spectre in the old temple

In this scene from the kabuki play The Last Story of the Actor Onoe Kikugoro (originally known as Solitary Journey in the Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido), the curtains are parted to reveal a gigantic cat-demon linked by a curving spirit trail to the apparition, indicated by the spirit fire, in the right panel.

Here, the cat-demon has manifested itself as an old witch, who is appearing with the ghost of the courtesan Usugumo.

The cat-demon was once the mother of the courtesan Usugumo, who had previously been the lover of the samurai Inabanosuke, who is seated at the centre.

In the temple, the ghost of the courtesan killed the samurai's wife, whose curse she believed had led to her own murder.

Japan has many legends of cat sorcery, in which the cat-demon possesses the supernatural power to assume human form and bewitch people.

Theatrical scene: the cat-spectre in the old temple Utagawa KUNIYOSHI
Japanese 1797-1861
Theatrical scene: The cat-spectre in the old temple
c. 1847 Edo, Japan

colour woodblock (triptych)
37.0 x 76.8 cm (image) (overall)
Purchased, 1993 (AS12.a-c-1993)

Theatrical scene: the cat-spectre in the old temple

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