Views of Ueno and Asakusa, a pair of handscroll paintings

Edo period, around AD 1716-36

Spring and summer scenes of Edo citizens enjoying themselves

This painting's fine detail, strong colours and generous use of cut gold-leaf suggests that it was an order from a rich patron. The artist is not known, but the painting style suggests a machi-eshi ('town painter') who may have been trained in the Sumiyoshi school. The two paintings are set in spring and summer. There was probably another pair of scrolls showing autumn and winter scenes, which may well have been signed by the artist. They are now unfortunately lost.

The scroll set in spring shows cherry-blossom time in the hilly Ueno district around Kan'eiji Temple. Worshippers of all classes - samurai with their two swords, merchants, artists, women and children - are strolling, or sitting eating and drinking, listening to music or enjoying other entertainments. A peep-show can be seen, an amusement introduced from Western Europe. Both koto (lateral harp) and shamisen performances are in progress.

The scroll set in summer shows Asakusa Temple near Azuma Bridge over the Sumida River with fleets of pleasure boats.

The scrolls are known to have been were exhibited in the 1890s at the James Bowes' Japanese Museum, Liverpool, one of the first public galleries of Japanese art in the United Kingdom.

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More information


L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)

I. Hirayama and T. Kobayashi (eds.), Hizō Nihon bijutsu taikan-1, vol. 2 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1992)

M. Narasaki (ed.), Hizō Ukiyo-e taikan, vol. 1 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1987)


Height: 295.000 mm ((each))
Length: 10665.000 mm (Ueno)
Length: 10665.000 mm (Ueno)

Museum number

Asia JA JP ADD341-2 (1950.11-11.021.01-02)


Gift of the Trustees of James Martin White


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