Exhibitions: Utagawa: Masters of the Japanese Print, 1770–1900

Utagawa Toyoharu: View of a Kabuki Theatre

Utagawa Toyoharu (1735–1814). View of a Kabuki Theater, 1770. From the series Perspective Pictures. Color woodcut. Chazen Museum of Art, Bequest of John H. Van Vleck, 1980.3086

Perspective pictures of theater interiors provide some of the best visual documentation of Edo period architecture. The massive wood structures featured a roofed stage and two-story viewing galleries. Actors entered and exited the stage on a wood-planked walkway that ran along the left side of the theater. Kabuki productions were rowdy social gatherings where people talked during the performance. Vendors selling food and drink are seen making their way through the crowd.