This famous print is based on the book Uto Yasukata chugi-den [Story on the Loyalty of Uto Yasukata], written by Santo Kyoden (1761-1816). The legend tells that Princess Takiyasha was the daughter on Taira no Masakado, who had died in the year 940 during an unsuccessful rebellion. At some point she and her stepbrother met Nikushisen, a spirit, whose powers helped them in forming a rebellion. They go to the Soma Palace (which belonged to their father) to enact their plan. However, a retainer of Minamoto Yorinobu, Oya Taro Mitsukuni, discovered the plot and finally defeated the princess and her stepbrother at the palace.
In Kuniyoshi's depiction of this legend, the ghost appears dramatically as a giant skeleton, drawing back a torn bamboo blind to haunt Mitsukuni. The princess looks on, chanting a spell.
The inscription reads:
At the old palace of Soma, Takiyasha, the daughter of Masakao, gathered her allies by witchcraft. Oya Taro Mitsukuni went there to test the demons and eventually destroyed her.1
1. Stephen Addiss, Japanese Ghosts and Demons, (New York, 1985), p.16