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Shinobazu Pond in Ueno

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Chikanobu Yoshu, Japanese, (1838–1912)
Shinobazu Pond in Ueno, October 24, 1884
Ink on Paper

Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Credit Line: Purchased with funds from the Aoki Endowment for Japanese Arts and Cultures
Accession Number: 2007.1.134

This print depicts the Meiji emperor, empress and their attendants at the opening ceremony of the racing tracks in Ueno Park. Ueno was built upon ideals of “Western style” parks, in an area that had formerly been occupied by a Buddhist shrine and accessible only by boat. The horse races became a popular subject for artists during the late 19th century, and Chikanobu made many versions of this same scene. The subject matter perhaps also reflects the artist’s exploration and critique of the encroachment of Western ideals in Japan. It is worth noting that before the Meiji period, such illustrations of the emperor were impermissible, which reflects the changing relationship between the ruled and the ruler. The emperor is shown in Western style military dress, while the ladies are shown in traditional Japanese clothing. The dominance of the deep red in the depiction of the emperor’s pavilion in the right foreground of the print provides a poignant contrast to the green of the natural landscape receding into the back of the pond. The bizarre floating paper figures were part of the grand celebration, and in relation to the soberness of the emperor’s expression and stance add a sense of humor to the piece.

Ana Farooq (student, 2016)

Object Description
Illustrated: Bakumatsu Meiji no Rekishi.
The Emperor and Empress at the opening of the horse racing track at Shinobazu Pond in Ueno.

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