Keisai Eisen, 1790-1848
Lucky Days When Divine Favor is Granted: The Temple of Lord Kiyomasa in Shirogane
(Gorisho musubu no ennichi: Kiyomasa ko, Shiroganedai-cho)
signed Keisai Eisen ga, with censor's seal kiwame, published by Tsutaya Juzaburo of Koshodo, ca. 1824
oban tate-e 15 1/8 by 10 1/4 in., 38.4 by 26 cm
A beauty seated on bench beside a display of tea bowls adjusts her hairpin while looking in a small hand mirror. At the upper right a vignette within a cartouche shaped like an ema (votive picture tablet) framed with gold and black lacquer illustrates the entrance to the Nichiren sect Buddhist temple, Kakurin-ji, located in Shirogane where there is a memorial to the legendary daimyo, Kato Kiyomasa (1562-1611), a follower of the warrior-priest Nichiren. Kiyomasa's 'enso' circular crest is visible on the lanterns hanging at the temple gate. On festival days the temple grounds would have been lined with stalls of merchants offering their wares, where this beauty, with a towel draped over her shoulder, appears to be taking a break from the hard work of attending to customers.
To her right a large paper lantern is covered with an attractive scattering of senjafuda (lit. 'thousand shrine slip), pasted by pilgrims who would commission a woodblock printed slip bearing their name and then travel around to holy sites in order to paste the slips at each location. The practice was partially an act of devotion, but also provided an excuse to travel, see the sights, and to indulge in an act of socially acceptable graffiti. Among the senjafuda Eisen has incorporated the name Bien Senjoko, a brand of face powder, along with Kyobashi Sakamoto-shi (Mr. Sakamoto of Kyobashi, the manufacturer of the powder), Tsutakichi (the print publisher, Tsutaya Kichizo), and Hangi Kame ('hangi' means woodblock print, and 'kame' is a kanji found in the names of some printers). While the names of Edo period printers were rarely noted on prints before the 1850s, the name Kita Ichitaro (the kanji for 'kame' can also be read 'ki') is mentioned on a shop board sign (along with another advertisement for the Bien Senjoko powder) in the ca. 1836 design, Niekawa, by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), number thirty-four in the series, Sixty-Nine Stations along the Kisokaido, produced with collaboratively with Eisen.
Meihin seibutsu ukiyo-e, vol. 7 , Shoppansha, 1991, pl. 50
Rebecca Salter, Japanese Popular Prints: From Votive Slips to Playing Cards, 2007, p. 94 (on senjafuda)
Mathew Welch & Yuiko Kimura-Tilford, Worldly Pleasures, Earthly Delights: Japanese Prints from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2011, p. 247, no. 208 (on Bien Senjoko)
Chiba City Museum of Art, Keisai Eisen: Artist of the Floating World, 2012, p. 133, no. 149 (title translated as Birthdays with Karmic Allusions: Seisho-ko in Shirogane-cho)
Andreas Marks, Hiroshige & Eisen: The Sixty-Nine Stations along the Kisokaido, 2017, p. 116, no. 34
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