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Kubo Shumman, A party in 'Shikian' Restaurant at Nakazu, a diptych of woodblock prints

1787/1788

British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

The fashionable and exclusive Shikian ('Four Seasons') restaurant was situated on the corner of Edo's Nakazu entertainment district, a small area of reclaimed land projecting from the bank of the Sumida River that enjoyed a brief heyday during the 1780s. On summer evenings pleasure boats and barges would assemble for the fireworks, vaudeville theatre shows, restaurants and unlicensed brothels of Nakazu.This diptych by Kubo Shumman (1757-1820) takes an oblique view across the terrace of the Shikian, showing the boats on the river beneath the skyline of warehouses, a bridge and a fire-tower. At the restaurant, the scene is of relaxed enjoyment. The standing couple hold hands. A seated couple play a hand-game of 'trap the fox' (kitsume ken, a bit like 'paper, scissors, stone'), while another woman serves tea to her colleague. A fourth woman carries in another tray laden with raw fish. Two geisha tune up their shamisen in readiness for a performance. The whole presents a wonderfully vivid tableau framed by paper lanterns and a trellis fence. The colours of the print are still remarkably bright; only the pale blue used for the water has faded.

Details

  • Title: Kubo Shumman, A party in 'Shikian' Restaurant at Nakazu, a diptych of woodblock prints
  • Date Created: 1787/1788
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 36.30cm (each); Width: 25.30cm (each)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: woodblock
  • Subject: restaurant; feast/banquet
  • Registration number: 1924,0327,0.9.1-2
  • Production place: Published in Edo
  • Producer: Print artist Shunman, Kubo. Published by Shueido
  • Period/culture: Tenmei Era
  • Material: paper
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by Shaw, R N

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