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Nihon Embankment, Yoshiwara, No. 100 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige

Asian Art

Set off as a separate world by the line of rose-tinged clouds are the distant roofs of the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters, the destination of most of those traveling below on the Nihon Embankment. Along the eight hundred–yard stretch of the embankment were more than a hundred teahouses, each associated with a particular Yoshiwara brothel. Most visitors to Yoshiwara would stop at one of these teahouses for rest or entertainment before proceeding on to the pleasure quarters.

MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 4th month of 1857
    PERIOD Edo Period, Ansei Era
    DIMENSIONS Sheet: 14 3/16 x 9 1/4 in. (36 x 23.5 cm) Image: 13 3/8 x 8 3/4 in. (34 x 22.2 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS No publisher's seal visible, probably lost when left margin was trimmed. Date seal and censor seal at top margin.
    SIGNATURE Hiroshige-ga
    ACCESSION NUMBER 30.1478.100
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Anna Ferris
    PROVENANCE Prior to 1930, provenance not yet documented; by 1930, acquired by Anna Ferris of Summit, NJ; 1930, gift of Anna Ferris to the Brooklyn Museum.
    Provenance FAQ
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION This scene depicts a portion of the 800-yard stretch of the Nihon Embankment that led to the Yoshiwara ("pleasure quarters"). To reach the entertainment district, one could either rent a palanquin, as four have done in this view, or walk, concealing the face with a dark hood. Along the embankment were more than 100 teahouses, each bearing a cylindrical red lantern with the mark of a particular Yoshiwara brothel to which prospective customers would be introduced. The Nihon Embankment was constructed in 1620, two years after the Yoshiwara had been established as a prostitution district, officially licensed by the Bakufu. Above the rose-tinged clouds, a flock of geese cross the moonlit sky. Earlier impressions of this print have a green overprinting along the upper edge of the embankment and in the paddies along the San'ya Canal and particularly on the willow tree at the end of the embankment at far right. This is the famous "Looking-Back Willow," where parting guests would take their last parting looks back when leaving to return home.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858). Nihon Embankment, Yoshiwara, No. 100 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 4th month of 1857. Woodblock print, Sheet: 14 3/16 x 9 1/4 in. (36 x 23.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.100 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 30.1478.100_PS20.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 30.1478.100_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2023
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