Kuniaki: Outing of Actors and Beauties: Viewing A Framed Set of Senryu Poems Dedicated to Mt. Takao (Sold)

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Artist: Utagawa Kuniaki (Active ca. 1844-1868)
Title:  Outing of Actors and Beauties: Viewing A Framed Set of Senryu Poems Dedicated to Mt. Takao Date: 1861

Three women on a spring outing do a double take and turn to address the two famous Kabuki actors that they have just met as both groups tour an exhibition of poems at a temple in the outskirts of Edo. This in an interesting triptych that showcases a real-life exhibition of framed senryu poems that took place at Takao-zan Yakuô-in Yûki-ji Temple. We see Sawamura Tanosuke III (1845-1878) wearing a kimono with kangiku crests (chrysanthemum within a circle) and Nakamura Fukusuke III (1846-1888) in a handsome black haori coat with i-bishi crest, a crest that is a variation of a diamond, Narikoma-ya crest. 

It is interesting that Tanosuke, famous for their female roles, is also dressed as a woman while out in public. Tanosuke became tateonnagata 立女方, or the lead actor of female roles, of the Moritaza theater in 1860. Here Tanosuke is prior to a tragic theater accident in 1865, when they had to have both feet amputated in order to save their life. Tanosuke continued to act despite their escalating disability for another ten years.

The three beauties that we see are also beautifully dressed for their outing on this lovely spring day. Perhaps there was a poetry contest and here the results are publicly posted, rewarding those with the highest scores.

Mt. Takao Yakuô-in was situated in Hachiôji, a station along the Kôshû Kaidô, a road on the western-outskirts of Edo. It was protected by the Tokugawa Family of Kishu Province and was a popular area for pleasure outings for Edo townspeople.

The founder (inventor?) of the senryu poem was Karai Senryû, who introduced the 5-7-5 phonetic structure, similar to haiku, but with humorous and ironic tones. Here Senryû VI selected a total of about 73 poems with good ratings  and added 2 poems for the dedication in spring of 1861. The last poem (the one at the very at the end on the left) is his own poem with his name Senryû VI  六世川柳. The one before his is by Matsuki 抹木, the organizer of this event. On the right end of the sheet a picture of the moon and rabbits, below a signature Shinsai 晋斎with a seal Matsuki 抹木 as editor of this poem sheet. It is known that this listing sheet was printed and distributed to poets.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition.
Dimensions: ôban triptych; each sheet approx 37.3 x 25.5 cm
Publisher: Yamaguchi-ya Tôbeiト山口 山口屋藤兵衛

Seal:  carver’s seal Yokogawa Hori-Iwa 横川彫岩

Signature: Kuniaki ga