Kiyochika: Yoshimachi in Tokyo from Kiyochika Punch (Sold)

  • Sold.

Artist: Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915)
Title: Tokyo Yoshi-machi
Series: Kiyochika Punch (Kiyochika ponchi)
Date: Ca. 1881

Yoshi-machi in the Old Yoshiwara was a  licensed red-light district known for its tea houses (chaya) that primarily catered to men seeking same-sex liaisons. Kabuki actors who were training in female roles (oyama) would apparently entertain male guests in this kagema chaya area; this was even considered part of their training (!). Kagema is a historical Japanese term for young male sex workers. In the pictured scene we see a lanky man performing a dance who somehow upends the tray belonging to the geisha, sending the plates flying into her face. A man with an exaggerated moustache and a  western-style shawl seems to watch with detached amusement. Works from this series often had hidden political meanings, so we must assume the same here, although the intended satire by Kiyochika seems lost to time. In the title cartouche above, we see a rickshaw driver who has perhaps been roused for work; he was probably waiting for his guest in the Yoshi-machi. This series marked a watershed in Kiyochika’s career, when he shifted from portraying landscapes to comic and historical prints. This series was modeled on the English Punch. Scarce.

Condition: Excellent good impression, color and condition. .
Dimensions: ôban (36.4 x 25.3 cm)
Publisher: Kobayashi Tetsujirô
Signature: Kobayashi Kiyochika (in margin)