The KIN*MIA Cheval Odokuro T-Shirt features our Cheval silhouette depicting the second panel of the 1844 triptych print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), entitled, “Souma no furudairi” (相馬の古内裏 – Sōma, Inside and Out) also known as “Apparition of large skeleton summoned by Takiyasha, daughter of Taira no Masakado in his haunted Sōma Castle in front of Otake Taro Mitsukuni and his retainer” (相馬の古内裏 妖怪がしゃどくろと戦う大宅太郎光圀) circa 1844.
Taira no Masakado, known as The First Samurai, founded the Sōma Clan in what is now the Fukushima Prefecture over 1,000 years ago. The Shōmonki (the “Masakado Chronicles”) is a semi-historical account of Masakado’s conquests, as well as his demise – ending with the destruction of his Sōma Castle by the Emperor’s army and finally his decapitation. However, it is his daughter which is the focus of this particular piece.
After her father’s death in 940, Princess Takiyasha retreated to the ruined palace of Sōma with her guard. As the story goes, Takiyasha was a skilled sorceress who, with her familiar spirit, a frog, was able to conjure such spectres as the Odokuro (or, more commonly, Gashadokuro) — a giant skeleton at least fifteen times larger than the average man. According to legend, Gashadokuro, born from the discarded bones of starved, lurk in the shadows after midnight waiting to capture unaccompanied travelers. The lone wanderer’s only warning was a loud ringing in his ear before the Gashadokuro bit off his head and drank the blood that sprayed from the traveler’s neck. And although Gashadokura are said to be both invincible and indestructible, certain Shinto charms are known to ward them off.
The full set of three-panels depicts Takiyasha on the right conjuring the Gashadokuro to ward off Otake Taro Mitsukuni and his retainer, acting as the Emperor’s minions to search for surviving conspirators and claim the castle.