Sukedakaya Kodenji II as Ono Kudayu in Act 7 Artist: Tsuruya Kōkei (Japanese, born 1946)

January 1987

Asian Art

Based on a historical tale of revenge that took place in 1703, the popular play Kanadehon Chūshingura recounts the plot of forty-seven samurai taking revenge on Lord Moronao for instigating the events leading to the suicide of their master, Lord Hangan. While Yuranosuke, the leader of the samurai, begins plotting to avenge Hangan’s death, Lord Moronao convinces another former Hangan retainer, Ono Kudayū, to become a spy for him to uncover details of the revenge plot. Tsuruya Kōkei used delicately translucent paper for his prints, and the material is best exploited in this work. The letter in the spying Kudayū’s hand is impressed onto the back of the actual print, causing its contents to appear backwards to the viewer. Kudayū is played by Suketakaya Kodenji II, whose long, bony face and thin, wide pursed lips visually convey the spy’s lack of moral character.


Modern ukiyo-e: polychrome woodblock print on Ganpi Tori-no-ko paper from Fukui prefecture; brown mica ground


sheet: 15 1/4 × 9 3/4 in. (38.7 × 24.8 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Libertson

Accession Number



Showa era (1926–89)


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Herbert Libertson and Roni Neuer (Ronin Gallery), New York; gift in 2010 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • "Tsuruya Koukei Official Website," (accessed September 18, 2012).
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

color woodcuts


Two seals: "dokugaku ?sou dokkou" (independently studied, ? created, independently walked); "Koukei no in" (Koukei's seal)

Technical metadata and APIs


Open in Mirador

View IIIF manifest

The International Image Interoperability Framework, or IIIF, is an open standard for delivering high-quality, attributed digital objects online at scale. Visit to learn more

Linked Art

API response for this object

Linked Art is a Community working together to create a shared Model based on Linked Open Data to describe Art.