Minamoto no Yoshiie at Nakoso Barrier

Artist: Sumiyoshi Hironao 住吉広尚 (1781-1828)
Calligrapher: Yokoyama Ikei (fl. ca. 1818-1829)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, early 19th century
Ink, color, and gold on silk
H x W (image): 98.4 × 42.5 cm (38 3/4 × 16 3/4 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Mr. Kenneth Keith
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

archery, battle, bow, cherry blossom, cherry tree, Edo period (1615 - 1868), horse, Japan, kakemono, warrior, WWII-era provenance

To 1999
Mr. Kenneth Keith, Rochester Hills, MI, to 1999

From 1999
Freer Gallery of Art, given by Mr. Kenneth Keith in 1999

Previous Owner(s)

Mr. Kenneth Keith


For the Japanese nobility of the Heian period (794-1185), Nakoso Barrier marked one of the boundaries between the civilized world and the dangerous and less orderly regions beyond. In this painting, the great warrior Minamoto no Yoshi'ie (1041-1106), who was renowned for his martial skills, pauses at the barrier on his return toward Kyoto after successful battles to the north. There he wrote the poem that is inscribed above this painting: 

 Although I thought
 the wind would blow
 at Nakoso Barrier
 how deeply the mountain cherry blossoms
 cover the path

For Japanese people, cherry blossoms, which bloom briefly each spring, are associated with notions about the brevity of life. Cherry blossoms are thus appropriate motifs that often appear in poems by warriors.

Published References
  • Ann McClellan. The Cherry Blossom Festival. Boston. p. 10.
  • Roger V. Des Forges, John S. Major. The Asian World 600-1500. Medieval and Early Modern World New York. p. 77.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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