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signed oju Yoshitoshi ga, with artist’s seal Taiso, carver’s seal Hori Yata (Watanabe Yataro), and publisher’s date seal Meiji jusannen, juichigatsu, nijushika (Meiji 13 , November 24) of Nakamura Mitsu
oban tate-e 14 3/8 by 9 7/8 in., 36.5 by 25.1 cm
The descriptive cartouche reads:
Kan o tanoshimu in’itsujin wa
Nagaki hi o kesu ni kurushimu to iedo
Shibaizuki no fujin wa
Kureru o hayashi to oshimi
Gasu no hi kubaru hanemae ni
Chaya no kanjo shugi made
Yukitodokasete tenugui to
Hanakanzashi no haito o
Arii to ukeru kodomora o
Ozei tsurete no sanzai-suji wa
Kawagoshi no miru Honganji no
Do no ue yuku hototogisu o mo
Nao hikushi to suru koki no shinshi ka
-Tentendo shujin shiki
The recluse with his leisure time
Shepherds every minute of the day,
But his theater-loving lady
Finds that evening comes too soon.
Even before the gaslights are lit,
He has paid the teahouse bill,
And given gifts of towels
And hair ornaments
To grateful apprentice geisha.
Then he goes out on a shopping spree,
Accompanied by a gaggle
Of grateful girls.
Isn’t that a gentleman of the highest rank?
Higher than the flight
Of the cuckoo
Above the Honganji Hall
Across the river?
-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. 63
Roger Keyes, Courage and Silence, 1983, p. 440, no. 427.18
Eric van den Ing & Robert Schaap, Beauty and Violence, 1992, p. 125, no. 39.18
Amy Reigle Newland (ed.), A Courtesan’s Day: Hour by Hour, 2004, pp. 102-103, no. 18
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