Koryusai, Evening Bell

Eight Views of Beauties of the Green Houses detail

Isoda Koryusai, fl. ca. 1764-1789

Eight Views of Beauties of the Green Houses: Segawa of the Matsubaya House, Evening Bell
(Seiro bijin hakkei: Matsubaya nai Segawa, Bansho)

the courtesan Segawa sits beside a tokonomo while stoking the coals in a brazier as an attendant shinzo enters carrying a pan of charcoal; signed Koryusai ga, ca. 1776

koban 8 5/8 by 6 1/8 in., 21.9 by 15.5 cm

The theme of 'eight views' was adapted from a classical Chinese landscape grouping of 'Eight Views of the Hsiao and the Hsiang.' The Japanese landscape version, Omi Hakkei (Eight Views of Lake Biwa [Omi]), is a collection of eight famous views from the scenic area around Lake Biwa, which were frequently likened to beauties or employed in mitate-e (parody prints). While context of the landscape views were set with poetic references: Evening Snow, Night Rain, Autumn Moon, Returning Sails, Wild Geese Descending, and the subject of this print, Evening Bell, the specific locations were ever-changing. In the Eight Views of Edo, the Evening Temple Bell rings from the Kan'eiji Temple of the Toeizan at Ueno; but in the Eight Views of the Sumida River, the bell is from the Sensoji Temple of the Kinryuzan at Asakusa. In this case, we can infer that the courtesan and her shinzo would hear at bell from Asakusa, which was located close to the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters.

Bo yori tsutofu(u)
Kane no iri
Michiyukibito no
Koto tofu(u) kimi kana

At the dusk,
Vesper bell is pealing
from a temple,
you ask, any news
from wayfarers

While the author of this poem is unknown, there are allusions to classical literature. There is a poem by Fujiwara no Teika (or Sadaie, 1162-1241) that includes the phrase "asking news from michiyukibito (traveler)." The same phrase is also in the No play Sumidagawa (Sumida River) in which a mad woman asks travelers about her child.


poem detail

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site last updated
October 21, 2021

Scholten Japanese Art
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New York, New York 10019
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