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Kidomaru – Woodblock Print

Object ID: 1984.006.014
Object: Woodblock Print, ink and slight colors on paper
Place of Origin: Japan
Artist: Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849)
Date: Edo Period, 19th century
Size: 9×11.5
Credit: gift of Tarō Yamamoto

A two-page spread from a volume of Hokusai Manga depicting Kidomaru, apparently on the lookout for Minamoto no Yorimitsu and his men. Kidomaru, who is usually depicted with an ox or water buffalo, was a follower of Shutendoji, the ogre of Mt. Oe (near Miyazu), whom Yorimitsu slew. Kidomaru’s real name was Hakamadare Yasusuke, possibly the brother of Hirai no Yasumasa. Yasumasa was a retainer of Minamoto no Yorimitsu, although not one of his four generals. Yasusuke was offered a position under Yorimitsu which he refused, opting to become a brigand instead. Once, while imprisoned, he developed a hatred for Yorimitsu based on comments Yorimitsu made about him or recommendations Yorimitsu made to further restrict Yasusuke. Escaping from imprisonment, he resolved to assassinate Yorimitsu, and lay in wait for him disguised as an ox by the side of a road he knew Yorimitsu would travel. This was his favorite technique: to use the hides of animals to disguise himself or even to transform himself into animal form in order to perpetrate his crimes. He was killed by Yorimitsu’s generals when they discovered him.