Among all the illustrated scrolls owned by this museum, Okuri(Illustrated scroll of Oguri Hangan), definitely one of the masterpieces of the early pre-modern era, stands out for its immense length running up to approximately 324 1ong meters in 15 volumes. Another remarkable fact about this illustrated scroll is that it has been attributed to lwasa Matabei Katsumochi, also known as Ukiyo Matabei, who, in the early Edo period, developed a unique artistic style of his own by freely using a variety of art techniques depending upon the particular subject matters selected and whose illustrated scrolls are widely known for their elaborate colors, their exuberant elegance and their immense lengths. Unfortunately, however, 0kuri has so far had little opportunity of being displayed in its entirety and has largely remained one of the former Gyobutsu Imperial masterpieces known only by their names. At the present exhibition, special efforts have been made to show the illustrated scroll based on a sekkyobushi moralistic narrative song at its best through especially brilliant scenes selected from each of the 15 volumes arranged in such a manner as to enable the viewers to follow the story without undue effort.
With its texts written in the enchanting phraseology of the ningyo-joruri puppet show songs, the illustrated scroll unfolds with a bouncing sense of rhythm and the characters appearing in it have an inimitable lifelikeness. The fascinatingly vivid and detailed delineation of the scenes in the scroll may very well remind the viewers of the present-day gekiga dramatic comics.
We shall be immensely gratified if the present exhibition will lead to further detailed studies on the sekkyobushi song Okuri and on the artist lwasa Matabei in various scholastic circles and to acquaint the general viewers of the unique joys and charms of illustrated scrolls.