Yoshiwara Picture Book of New Year’s Festivities, vol. 1, 1804

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This book, from a two-volume set, depicts annual events and ceremonial scenes in Edo's licensed pleasure quarter, known as the Yoshiwara. The niwaka festival depicted here was one of the most extravagant of these occasions. Niwaka, meaning "spontaneous," originally referred to impromptu comedy skits. The festival consisted of costumed processions, a parade of floats, and the niwaka skits. This scene shows a shishi-mai, a lion dance in which performers carry a large, fantastic lion-like mask. Traditionally lion dances in the more stately Nō theater were performed as an act of exorcism, but in the Yoshiwara's niwaka festival the religious significance was downplayed in favor of the lighthearted merriment and spectacle of women dressed in fanciful costumes.

Yoshiwara Picture Book of New Year’s Festivities, vol. 1
Artist Life
fl. 1800-1810s
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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