The Storehouse of Loyal Retainers (Chushingura), Scene 1: The Helmet Identification at Hachiman Shrine

Ando Hiroshige

Edo period (1615-1868), 1836

The Chushingura is a tale set in the Edo period (1615-1868). It was written about 1748 for the puppet theater, but is now most famous as a Kabuki play. It recalls an incident that took place on the night of January 30, 1703, in which the retainers of a disgraced lord break into the mansion of their archenemy and murder him. The vendetta completed on their lord’s false accuser, the forty-seven ronin (masterless samurai) were arrested and sentenced to death. Because of their sense of duty to their lord, the Shogun permitted the brave warriors the honor death by hara-kiri (ritual suicide).

In the opening scene of the play, the Shogun has just defeated his enemy. Morono supervises the celebration ceremony, attended by Wakasa and Hangan, where a special helmet will be chosen and presented to the shrine. Hangan’s wife has been summoned to select the special helmet.