Three courtesans engaged in a drinking game sit in an open veranda in early spring, with cherry blossoms in full bloom behind them. The women appear tipsy, and the one at the right clings to her companion in the middle for support, as she stretches out her left hand to have her cup refilled with saké (rice wine). They have a tray of delicacies shamisen at their feet.
All the senses are aroused by this image of three women engaged in a playful drinking game. The setting is an open veranda in early spring, when cherry blossoms are in full bloom. The party scene is complete—except perhaps for the male client who has paid for it all. Male viewers of the print no doubt preferred to imagine themselves in that role. Eizan is from the same group of printmakers as Ichirakutei Eisui, and the elongated faces are typical of their prints.
In this print, one of a series of ten views of "tea house" districts, Kiyonaga has depicted two women and a child strolling along the shore by the sea wall at Takanawa. A woman at left shields her eyes from the summer sun with her fan, and has her obi tied in front of her. The younger looking companion holding her hand wears a gaily flowered kimono, which has fallen wide open. A child walks with them, gesturing to the side of the print. The front portion of a boat and wall of a town or temple lie behind them.
This is an especially well-preserved print, where even the indigo blue is still visible.
Outside of the licensed pleasure quarter of Yoshiwara, there were several unlicensed brothel districts in Edo. When Yoshiwara was devastated by a fire in the 1780s, these heretofore disreputable areas were spruced up and briefly became the major entertainment attractions in town. Few artists capture the déclassé atmosphere of these environs as well as Torii Kiyonaga.
In this print, one of a series of ten views of "tea house" districts, he has depicted two women and a child strolling along the shore by the sea wall at Takanawa. Kiyonaga carefully delineates their class and age: the woman at left is the eldest and clearly in charge; that she ties her obi in front identifies her as a prostitute. Her younger companion must be in the same profession, judging from the way she allows her kimono to fall wide open. The child may be a daughter of the first woman, or a young apprentice. Yet for all of his straightforward rendering of these women as lower-class, there is no hint of disdain or tawdry seaminess in Kiyonaga’s image.
This is an especially well-preserved print, where even the indigo blue is still visible. The colors used in Japanese prints throughout the eighteenth century were made from plants, and very "fugitive"—that is, they quickly fade when exposed to light. In the great majority of prints, what had once been a rich palette of purples, pinks, and blues has faded to pale browns and grays.
A color print depicting a woman on a balcony behind a fence looking down at a man on the other side of the fence. The woman is wearing a kimono of dark color with a flower pattern on the bottom. She appears to be hiding a smile behind her sleave. The man is wearing a green yukata with black underneath. He is lifting the bottom of his yukata up, revealing most of his right leg, as he kicks a ball that is depicted at the top level of the fence.
The man is playing kemari, a traditional Japanese sport. The fence implies a boundary between the man and woman, suggesting that the female is a low ranking commoner and the male is of the higher merchang class. However, kemari is a game of the imperial court. The scene is actually a modern re-enactment of an episode of The Tale of Genji where a princess falls in love with a young courtier as she watches him play kemari.
This is a color woodblock print of a courtesan and her two attendants. They are walking toward the left. The courtesan wears red and brown kimono with geometric designs and a pink cloak with plum tree and cloud design. Her green obi (sash), tied in front, has peacock feather and geometric patterns. Her hair is sculpted in the shape of “lantern” style, with the broad wings to the side of the head. Three large tortoise-shell comb and four pins adorn the hair. The two young attendants wear matching clothes and hair accessories; their kimono design has the same plum and cloud patterns as the courtesan but in brownish colors. Their obi is in green color with wavy stripes, loosely tied on their backs. They also have tortoise shell combs, hairpins, and ornaments in the shape of pine leaves. One attendant is looking at a ground, and other attendant toward the right. All three wear high platform sandals. There are artist’s signature and publisher’s seal on the lower left corner, as well as the title on the upper right corner.
Traditionally the famous beauties of the Yoshiwara entertainment quarter in Edo would parade under the cherry blossoms every spring in the newest fashions. Here we are shown the reigning courtesan of the Chôjiya house, Karauta, accompanied by two young attendants, Matsuno and Takeno, in matching costumes. Note the new "lantern" hairstyle, with the broad wings to the side of the head. This print serves as an advertisement for the attractions of the Chôjiya tea house— and quite possibly for the shop that provided the costumes as well. Print designers often worked as textile designers on the side, and images such as these would appeal to women as the equivalent of the latest issue of Vogue.
(Adopted from M. Graybill, "Courtesans, Cross-Dressers, and the Girl Next Door Images of the Feminine in Japanese Popular Prints" 3/9 - 9/1/02)
A woodblock print on paper depicting the image of a woman in a red robe and holding a smoking pipe. A corresponding poem inscribed at the top in both Chinese and Japanese.
A female prostitute wearing a red robe with a hood, disguising herself as the Bodhidharma. This is a parody of the fact that the nickname for a prostitute was daruma, an epithet for Bodhidharma. The image depicts an equivalence between the prostiue and the patriarch Bodhidharma.