Temporary Quarters


Ladies of Yoshiwara in their Temporary Quarters

This picture shows ladies of Yoshiwara, the pleasure district of Tokyo around the Edo period (now Senzoku in Taitouku in eastern Tokyo), in their temporary quarters after one of many episodes of the district being damaged or destroyed by fire.

The picture, by Keisai Eisen (1790-1848; 渓斎英泉) is unusual in being printed in a monochrome blue. The picture has been printed in accordance with rules of the Shogunate in force at that time prohibiting overly decorative pictures.

The print uses a chemical rather than natural dye “Berlin Blue” which had recently been imported from Holland. The freshness of this color was popular, having caught the attention of the ordinary people.

With this color the garishness of other pictures by Eisen is avoided, making this a fresh and exhilarating female portrait.

Vocabulary, notes

  • 毒々しい・どくどくしい・garish
  • 豪華なもの・ごうかなもの・gorgeous
  • 藍一色・あおいっしょく・monochrome blue
  • 爽快さ・そうかいさ・freshness, exhilaration

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