Tsubaki Anna (b. 1970)
The Court in the Springtime
Japan, 2012
Digital print; ink and color on paper
Copyright: Tsubaki Anna
Loan from the artist

The historical character Tōyama Kinshirō (1793–1855) was a city magistrate in the capital of Edo, and from 1970 to 1996, a samurai drama based upon his legend, Tōyama no Kin-san, was televised throughout Japan. In each episode, the protagonist investigated a crime while disguised as a tattooed, philandering playboy, and at the climax of each episode, when the criminals arrived at his court and deceitfully pleaded their innocence, Kinshirō indicated that he personally witnessed their crimes by dramatically stripping off his robe and revealing the cherry-blossom tattoo on his shoulder.

In Tsubaki’s parody of Tōyama no Kin-san, the hero has dispensed with his concern for justice and righteousness, falsely arrested one of the courtesans he fancies, and begins to subject her to a mock trial for his own sadomasochistic titillation.