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Origin[]

Excecution of Goemon Ishikawa

Execution of Goemon Ishikawa (Goemon Ishikawa and his son Goroicha. Late 19th century picture by Toyokuni Ichiyōsai).

Ishikawa Goemon was a semi-legendary Japanese outlaw hero who stole gold and valuables and gave them to the poor. Goemon is notable for being boiled alive along with his son in public after a failed assassination attempt on the civil war-era warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi. His legend continues to live on, often with greatly exaggerated ninja skills, in contemporary Japanese popular culture. Bandō Mitsugorō III playing the role of Ishikawa Goemon in the kabuki drama Sanmon Gosan no Kiri, which was staged in March 1820 at the Nakamura-za theater (print made by Utagawa Toyokuni I) There is little historical information on Goemon's life, and as he has become a folk hero, his background and origins have been widely speculated upon. In his first appearance in the historical annals, in the 1642 biography of Hideyoshi, Goemon was referred to simply as a thief. As his legend became popular, various anti-authoritarian exploits were attributed to him, including a supposed assassination attempt against the Oda clan warlord Oda Nobunaga.

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