Chikanobu Yoshu, Noh Theatre, The Inner Palace of Chiyoda

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Original Japanese woodblock print.

Artist: Chikanobu Yoshu (1838-1912)
Title: Backstage of a Noh Theatre
Series: The Inner Palace of Chiyoda
Publisher: Fukuda Hatsujiro
Date: 1894-1897
Condition: Some stains, red pigment oxidisation. Light crease along the edge from binding.
Size: (L) 24.2 x 35.3 (C) 23.5 x 35.2 (R) 24 x 35.3 cm

This series published around 1890 depicted the life of the court ladies living in the women’s quarters of the shogun’s palace called ‘ooku’ before the Meiji restoration. The palace was also known as Edo castle and contained many luxurious buildings, gardens and gates.


The women lived leisurely lives representing the height of elegance and beauty evident in their finely detailed and brightly coloured kimono and youthful faces. The court ladies fashions varied throughout the ages and consisted of wearing white make-up and styling her hair. These ladies-in-waiting were expected to be well educated in traditional arts and carry out refined activities such as writing poetry, tea ceremony and attending theatre plays. Chikanobu produced many fine woodcuts dealing with scenes from the Noh Theatre, and with the pleasures of the noble courts. His minimalist style combined with the richly decorated clothes and costumes made him stand out among other woodblock print artists of the Meiji period. In this print, a lady is preparing a Noh mask for an actor that is about to step on stage.

More Information
Artist Name Chikanobu Yoshu
Title Backstage of a Noh Theatre
Subject Beauty & Female, Kimono Design
Dimensions (L) 24.2 x 35.3 (C) 23.5 x 35.2 (R) 24 x 35.3 cm
Series Court Ladies of the Chiyoda Palace