Here the kabuki actor Bando Shuka I plays the courtesan Shiraito in the Yoshiwara pleasure district of Edo (Tokyo). The play was first performed in Edo’s Nakamura theatre in 1852. Bando Shuka I was renowned as an onnagata (female role specialist). In kabuki, all roles are usually played by men.

The scene gives a sense of what a pleasure house of the 1850s may have looked like, and the activities that took place. The man rolling up his sleeves is Suzuki Mondo, a samurai bankrupted by his obsession with Shiraito. The figure in the black hood near the centre may represent Suzuki Mondo’s wife, there to attack Shiraito.


  • Title: Bando Shuka I as the courtesan Shiraito of Hashimoto-ya
  • Creator: Utagawa KUNIYOSHI
  • Date Created: 1852
  • Location: Japan
  • Physical Dimensions: 35.3 x 49.2 cm
  • Provenance: James Hayes
  • Type: Print
  • Rights: Gift of Dr. James Hayes 2003
  • External Link: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/328.2003.a-b
  • Medium: woodblock print; ink and colour on paper, ōban diptych
  • Signature & Date: Signed [right sheet; part a] l.l. [in cartouche], in Japanese, "Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi-ga [and artist's red seal]". Signed [left sheet; part b] l.r. [in cartouche], in Japanese, "Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi-ga [and artist's red seal]".
  • Artist Country: Japan

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