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Hibiya and Soto-Sakurada From Yamashita-Cho, No. 3 in One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Catalogue Description:
This print is an example of the compositional wit that characterizes many of the "One Hundred Famous Views of Edo," involving a superimposition of an extreme close-up on a distant landscape. The spirit of New Year play is expressed by the kites in the sky. One is a yakko figure dancing in the upper margin; another is haplessly fallen on a rival's string. Two close-up battledores (hagoita) shown from either side, the one on the left has an even closer detail of a Kadomatsu pine (compare with pl. 2). In midair above the shuttlecock appears to be moving right to left. The location here is exactly reversed from the previous print. Here it is looking from a commoners' neighborhood (Yamashita-cho), now the area around Soto-Sakurada. The impressive facade that stretches along the far side of the moat is one of the most detailed depictions of a daimyo mansion found in any ukiyo-e print, the main residence of the Nabeshima clan of Saga; the elaborate design of the gate denotes a domain of high rank (350,000 koku in this case). This site is now occupied by Hibiya Park, and the one to the left, where the corner wall of the mansion of the lord of Shirakawa is just barely visible behind a pine branch, is now the Imperial Hotel. Overall, the print offers a pleasing contrast between the solemn majesty of the daimyo presence in Edo and the lightness and wit of the commoners' play.


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