Takenouchi no Sukune was a famous warrior-statesman who is attributed with an extraordinary life. He is said to have lived for as long as 150 to 360 years, and to have served as many as six monarchs as a counselor or minister. Best known among the monarchs he served was the empress Jingo Kogo, whom he accompanied on an expedition to Korea. On his return, he became the guardian to the empress's son, the future emperor Ojin, who ascended to the throne in the year 270.
The meeting between Takenouchi and the Dragon King, Ryujin, was a popular subject in Meiji-period art. Takenouchi dreamed he was ordained by heaven to destroy a terrible sea monster that was terrorizing the waters for humans and sea creatures alike. Takenouchi undertakes this task with great valor, and the Dragon King emerges from the deep with an attendant to thank him and present him with a jewel that promises him control over the seas.
The expression of imaginative design in this group is outstanding. Every detail of the figures, such as the armor worn by Takenouchi and the ferocious fish-form mask and spiny lobster-like girdle worn by the attendant, is defined with elegant and precise casting. The rocks on which the figures stand teem with the life of the sea. This extraordinary group is a tour-de-force of bronze casting and a great tribute to the artistry of Japanese metal craftsmen. The work was exhibited at the Second Domestic Industrial Fair in 1881 in Tokyo and later to great acclaim at an international exhibition at South Kensington, London.