Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre
Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre is a woodblock print by the Japanese artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861), who was especially renowned for his depictions of historical and mythical scenes. This print portrays tenth-century princess Takiyasha summoning a skeleton spectre to frighten Mitsukuni.
The princess is reciting a spell written on a handscroll. She summons up a giant skeleton which comes rearing out of a terrifying black void, crashing its way through the tattered palace blinds with its bony fingers to menace Mitsukuni and his companion. Princess Takiyasha was the daughter of the provincial warlord Taira no Masakado who tried to set up an “Eastern Court” in Shimōsa Province, in competition with the emperor in Kyōto. However, his rebellion was put down in the year 939 and Masakado was killed. After his death, Princess Takiyasha continued living in the ruined palace of Sōma. This print shows the episode from the legend when the emperor’s official, Ōya no Mitsukuni, comes to search for surviving conspirators.