The False Ikkyû Preaching to the Bill Collectors


Edo period
1843–47 (Tenpô 14–Kôka 4)
Artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (Japanese, 1797–1861), Publisher Jôshûya Kinzô (Japanese)

Catalogue Raisonné

Ôta Mem. Mus., Warau ukiyo-e (2013), #122; Inagaki and Isao, Kuniyoshi no kyôga (1991), #74; Hizô Ukiyo-e taikan/Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections 11, Museo d'Arte Orientale, Genoa, II (1989), fig. 85


Vertical ôban triptych; 35.5 x 23.6 cm (14 x 9 5/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper

Not On View


Asia, Prints and Drawings



Triptych: 11.28882 (right), 11.28883 (left), 11.28884 (center)

MFA impressions: 11.28882-4, 11.36499a-c, 11.39576a-c

The text explains that once when the famous Zen priest Ikkyû was away from home, bill collectors came for the money that was owed to them. Ikkyû’s disciple Hakuzôzu told them that he himself was Ikkyû. Assisted by an otokodate called Nozarashi Gosuke, he delivered a stirring sermon on heaven and hell. The bill collectors were so moved that they crossed out the debts listed in their acount books and offered their own money and possessions to the priest instead.


「一休和尚ハ後小松天皇の御落胤なり其名を宗純と申し都紫野大徳寺なる宗曇花叟の嗣法にて出藍の方弥高く禅機悟法に長給う故世の人是を活仏と称す或年河内国駒嶽の麓に閑居し給ひしる時節極月晦日の夜草庵へ討債共の大勢にて来りしかバ御弟子箔蔵主ハ侠客野晒悟助といひあハせ自一休なるといつはり地獄極楽の有様を軍陣のことによけへいと面白く法談なし或ハ諸経の極意をやハらげ無常迅速の理を世にあハれげに説けれバ悟助ハ程よき頃を見て勧進木口をもちまハるに聴衆の面々感にたへ債ことハうち忘れ貸高を記しゝ帳面に墨をひきて消あれバ他所にて債りし金銭を布施物にいるゝ者も有て暫時欲念を散じけるとぞ 故人京伝翁の著作せられし本朝酔菩薩の文を省略して 柳下亭種員筆記」
「はたるべきかけハはたらでつミとがの帳けしをさへねがふをかしさ たねかず」


Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi giga (right sheet), Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga (center sheet), Chôôrô Kuniyoshi ga (left sheet)
一勇斎国芳戯画 一勇斎国芳画 朝櫻楼国芳画


Censor's seal: Mura
No blockcutter's mark


By 1911, purchased by William Sturgis Bigelow (b. 1850 – d. 1926), Boston [see note 1]; 1911, gift of Bigelow to the MFA. (Accession Date: August 3, 1911)

[1] Much of Bigelow's collection of Asian art was formed during his residence in Japan between 1882 and 1889, although he also made acquisitions in Europe and the United States. Bigelow deposited many of these objects at the MFA in 1890 before donating them to the Museum's collection at later dates.

Credit Line

William Sturgis Bigelow Collection