Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, Thirty-two Aspects of Customs and Manners, Kyoto Waitress, Beauty Portrait, Ukiyo-e


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Artist: Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (1839-1892)
Title: ‘Okigatsukisou’ – Meiji nenkan saikyo nakai no fuzoku (The Appearance of a Skilled Kyoto Waitress in the Meiji Era (1868-1912)
Series title: Fuzoku Sanjuniso (Thirty-two Aspects of Customs and Manners)
Publisher: Tsunashima Kamekichi
Date: 1888
Dimensions: 23.9 x 35.7cm

First edition print.

The ‘nakai’ of the title means a waitress, in this case that of a Kyoto geisha house who also often worked as a go-between, handling arrangements between customer and proprietor. Yoshitoshi shows her busily occupied – she has noticed an untrimmed wick in a paper lantern and is taking out her hairpin to attend to it.

Her elaborate hairstyle was very popular among young ladies in western Japan in the first half of the nineteenth century. Her half-open summer robe bears a large palm-leaf design. A sprinkling of mica dust makes the black night sky sparkle when light strikes the print at an angle.

The word ‘saikyo’ (western capital) used in the title refers to Kyoto, as opposed to the eastern capital, Tokyo.

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