Keisei Sano no funabashi (Sano and the castle toppler at the boat bridge, 傾城佐野の船橋) was one of Osaka kabuki's adaptations of an Edo ningyô jôruri (puppet play) titled Yûshoku Kamakurayama (1789). Based on actual events from 1784 involving an administrator named Tanuma Okitsugu and the killing of his son Okitomo by a bannerman samurai (hatamoto, 旗本) named Sano Zenzaemon. The playwright was compelled — due to censorship against portraying current events involving the shogunate — to transplant the story back in time (he decided on the twelfth century), where he has Miura Arajirô and his father Yasamura foiled in an assassination plot. When Arajirô insults Sano Genzaemon at a temple ceremony, Genzaemon slays him inside the Shogun's palace, a grievous offense leading to Genzaemon's ritual suicide (seppuku, 切腹).
This is left sheet of a diptych with the hero Sano Genzaemon raising his short sword (wakizashi, 脇差) a moment before slaying the villain Miura Arajirô. Miura's remarkable purple robe with its billowing, oversized sleeves and long trousers (nagahakama, 長袴), make this sheet an especially memorable design.
The colors are especially well preserved, with a bright red for the sword hilt and strong yellow-checkered background. The fugitive purple is fine except at the lower right where light and humidity slightly affected the sheet while it was mounted in an album.
The inscription indicates that this was a fund-raising event at the Goryô Shrine Theater and that the performances were very big hits (ôatari, ôatari):
"Presented by a donation from the Goryô Shrine, this play is a huge success both now and in the past."
Goryô sha kishin shibai ni o i te kokin ôatari ôatari
References: IKBYS-I, no. 126; SCH, no. 53; TWOP, no. 25; NKE, p. 716