In 1176, Kudo Suketsune murdered his cousin, Kawazu Saburo Sukeyasu. Kawazu left two sons, Goro, three, and Juro, five. The widow’s second husband, Soga, adopted Juro and sent Goro to a temple to become a monk.
The brothers wanted revenge for their father and secretly trained in the sword. One day in 1193, Kudo was hunting with Shogun Yoritomo. Juro found out, grabbed a horse and rode flat out to Oiso, Goro’s monastery. The brothers fled during the night, in a heavy storm.
At the hunting camp, Juro and Goro found Kudo, drunk, and killed him. The camp exploded in battle between Suketsune’s retainers and the brothers. Juro was killed, and Goro captured by a wrestler named Goromaru, the scene shown here. Shogun Yoritomo ordered Goro executed.
Despite Yoritomo, perhaps because of him, the Soga brothers became heroes of the samurai revenge culture, stars of kabuki plots and woodblock prints.