One of the most popular writers in nineteenth-century Japan was Bakin, who lived from 1767 to 1848. His most famous book, The Tale of the Eight Dog Heroes of Satomi, or Satomi Hakkenden in Japanese, was published in 106 installments from 1814 to 1842. Fans waited eagerly for the publication of each new chapter of the exciting story, which tells of eight heroes, each with the word for “dog” (in Japanese, inu) in his family name. (In Japanese, the family name comes first, with the personal names after it.) The eight heroes are as brave and loyal as faithful dogs. They use a combination of sword fighting, magic, and strategy to defeat the enemies of the Satomi clan, and after many adventures, they are finally successful.
Just as best-selling books today are made into movies, The Eight Dog Heroes became a Kabuki play that was produced many times with different actors. Many artists drew designs for woodblock prints showing the poses and expressions of the actors and the colorful costumes and stage sets. When you color the pictures, you can follow the colors they used or try new combinations. The last page is blank so that you can draw your own picture of a thrilling scene that you would enjoy seeing on stage or in a movie. What costumes would you design for the heroes of your favorite adventure story?
Bakin = Bah-KEEN
Satomi = Sah-TOE-mee
Hakkenden = HOCK-ken-den
inu = EE-noo, Kabuki = kah-BOO-kee