Night View of Saruwaka-machi, 1857, 9th month

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Concerned with the hedonistic activities of commoners, the government instituted a series of reforms in 1842 that aimed at curbing the city's thriving entertainment industry. All Kabuki theaters were required to relocate in the Saruwaka-machi district in the northeast part of the city. The plan backfired. Rather than making it difficult for people to attend the ribald performances, the area became a thriving attraction with countless businesses and restaurants catering to rowdy theatergoers.

In this depiction of Saruwaka-machi, the three theaters can be identified by their turrets that rise above the row of roofs on the right. Because performances were allowed only between sunrise and sunset, this print, with a full moon in the sky, shows the area after the theaters had closed. Nevertheless, people are still shown dallying in the street, savoring the lingering excitement of the performances they saw earlier in the day. Others are undoubtedly patronizing the restaurants, whose lights give off a welcoming glow.

Night View of Saruwaka-machi
Artist Life
1797 - 1858
Accession Number
Catalogue Raisonne
Ukiyo-e shūka 14 (1981), Hiroshige list, p. 250, vertical ōban #62.46
Curator Approved

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