The print's title is "Asakusa Rice Fields and the Torimachi Festival" (from the series “100 Famous Views of Edo”, 1857—this one in the Scripps College Collection), and it belongs to the tradition of ukiyo-e (“pictures of the floating world”) that depicted the pleasure quarters and kabuki theaters frequented by Japan's urban populace in the Edo period (1600–1868). In ukiyo-e, the cat is often cast as a voyeur in erotic scenes set in brothels, which were located near Asakusa. Here, from the second-story window of a brothel, the cat is looking down at a parade of revelers carrying large rakes as part of the Torimachi Festival. Several objects in the room connect the scene in the room with the outside view. On the floor at the left is a white packet containing rake-shaped hair ornaments—a souvenir from the festival given by the male visitor who is apparently with his lover behind the folding screen, the edge of which is barely visible at the left. The towel and bowl of water on the windowsill suggest that the couple have perhaps finished their business. This is presumably why the cat looks outside, turning his back on them in boredom.
Signed Hiroshige ga. Publisher's seal (Uoya Eikichi), censer's seal (Aratame), and date seal (1857).
Colored ink on paper; woodblock print; oban tat-e.
Ninteenth century Japanese color woodblock print depicting a white cat sitting at the bars of a window watching a procession in the distance wending its way to the Asakusa Temple, and a snowy Fuji in the distance. In first edition copies Fuji is tinted grey, an effect missing in later issues. Dated 11th month, 1857. A famous print.
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