- Museum number
Painting, handscroll. Three scenes from lives of pleasure-loving inhabitants of Naniwa, Osaka, in spring: people in streets; progress of high-ranking courtesan through Shinmachi pleasure quarter; pleasure boats in estuary of Ajikawa river and party at tea house on bank. Ink and colour on paper. Inscribed, signed and sealed.
- Production date
Height: 36 centimetres (mount)
Height: 31.50 centimetres
Length: 427.40 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Pleasure boats are gathered at the mouth of the Aji River, the northern channel of the Yodo River where it enters Osaka bay. The Tempozan lighthouse is seen in the distance. Kan'ei was the son and pupil of Nishiyama Hoen, exponent of the Shijo style in Osaka. (Label copy, TTC, 1997)
Hizo Nihon bijutsu taikan Vol 2
This scroll painting shows scenes from the lives of the pleasure-loving inhabitants of Osaka in spring near the end of the Edo period. The scenes fall into three groups: those showing people in the streets (Color Plate 23-1); those showing the progress of a high-ranking courtesan through the Shinmachi pleasure quarter (Color Plate 23-2); and, finally, those showing pleasure boats in the estuary of the Ajikawa river (Color Plate 23-3). The people in the streets, young and old, men and women alike, have all come out in search of enjoyment: the master of the house and his family, followed by an apprentice-boy shouldering a bundle and a maid carrying a gourd; a samurai with his retainer; an elderly retired man with his maid. As the scroll progresses and red lanterns, apparently signaling the proximity of the pleasure quarter, come into view, a patron, half concealing his face with his fan, turns to look back intently at something. The object of his gaze proves to be a high-ranking courtesan of the Shinmachi pleasure quarter, the officially licensed brothel area of Osaka that ranked with Shimabara in Kyoto and Yoshiwara in Edo.
The colorful procession led by the courtesan is heading for a house of assignation; in the background, cherry blossoms bloom in gay profusion. The courtesan is followed by a child attendant, a procuress, and an attendant prostitute, while men carrying various necessities and maids bring up the rear. The differences in footwear that reflect the hierarchy of the gay quarters are shown in accurate detail.
In Osaka, pleasure boats were a highly popular form of amusement in summer and spring. As the Yodo River reached the built-up area of Osaka, it divided into the Aji River, the Shirinashi River, and the Kitsu River before debouching into Osaka Bay. The northernmost of the three was the Aji River, from which people would row their boats out toward the sea. In the scene shown, three women and two men are having a drinking party on their boat. The smaller boat beyond is more simply constructed, and three men are visible on it. Beyond it again, the double-decker boat hung with rows of lanterns is probably 'fune-ikesu', a kind of floating river-fish restaurant; it was possible to tie one's boat alongside and be served food on board. Although the word 'ikesu' in Osaka refers to a restaurant serving river fish, the food in fact included sea fish also. At the mouth of the Aji River stood tea shops and other similar establishments that made it an ideal spot at which to leave the boat for a short rest. Here, three customers are seen dancing in their cups. This is the northern bank of the Aji River, the hill visible in the distance to the south being Mt. Tenpo.
The artist, Nishiyama Kansei (1833-97), also known for his Confucian studies, served Lord Akashi of Hyogo as official Confucian scholar. His father, from whom he learned to paint, was Nishiyama Hoen, pupil of Matsumura Keibun. He died on August 12, 1897, at the age of sixty-four. The present work was probably painted sometime before his thirtieth year.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2022 23 Mar - 8 May, Kyoto, National Museum of Modern Art, The Pictorial Arts and the Salon Culture of Kyoto and Osaka
- Acquisition date
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Jap.Ptg.2644 (Japanese Painting Number)
Other BM number: Anderson No. 2653 (annotation in Anderson 1886)