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signed oju Yoshitoshi ga, with artist’s seal Yoshi (?), carver’s seal Hori Yata (Watanabe Yataro), and publisher’s date seal Meiji jushinen, -gatsu, -ka (Meiji 14 ) of Morimoto Junzaburo
oban tate-e 14 1/2 by 9 7/8 in., 36.9 by 25.1 cm
The descriptive cartouche reads:
Itadaki shiroku narimasaru
Fuji no fu no ji o kogoto ni narasu
Shimogare-doki no sabishisa ni
Yoi kara netaru koshi o tatakare
Shitauchi shitsutsu suru mijitaku no
Hada ni tsumetaki nagajuban o
Haha no aburasu keshizumi no
Okori mo osoku kita kyaku wa
Ki no kikanu to wa iu mono no
Denu ni wa masaru fuyu no tsuki
Gasu ni terisou arisama wa
Hiroki chimata no sugoku mietari
-Sokosha Tentendo shujin
When Fuji’s peak grows white,
The lack of callers
Raps at every door.
She had retired early
In all the wintry solitude,
But then a knock sounded at the lattice.
Clucking to herself,
She donned her undergarment
So cold on her bare skin,
She gave it to Mother to warm it,
The charcoal reddened as tardily
As the appearance of this unappealing guest.
Though, like the winter moon,
Better this than nothing at all.
The wide streets looked desolate
Under the bright gaslights.
-by the Proprietor of Tentendo
This series presented an hour by hour account of vingnettes from the everyday lives of women of a variety of ages and positions working in the chic geisha neighborhoods of Shinbashi and Yanagibashi in Tokyo. Published in 1880-1881 by Morimoto Junzaburo and Nakamura Mitsu, the illustrations were paired with gesaku-style prose full of slang, puns and metaphors written by the journalist Takabatake Ransen (1838-1885, signing as Tentendo) with his own calligraphy. Sometimes he would take the voice of the geisha, at other times his insights are presented from the perspective of an observer.
Highlights of Japanese Printmaking: Part Five – Yoshitoshi, Scholten Japanese Art, New York, 2017, cat. no. 64
Roger Keyes, Courage and Silence, 1983, p. 439, no. 427.1
Eric van den Ing & Robert Schaap, Beauty and Violence, 1992, p. 125, no. 39.1
Amy Reigle Newland gen. ed., A Courtesan’s Day: Hour by Hour, 2004, pp. 68-69, no. 1
Harue M. Summersgill, ‘A Contemporary Chronicle,’ in A Courtesan’s Day: Hour by Hour, 2004, pp.60-63
Andreas Marks, Publishers of Japanese Woodblock Prints: A Compendium, 2011, p. 251