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Hironobu (廣信)

(R) Jitsukawa Enjaku I (実川延若) as kagokaki (palanquin bearer) Saichi (駕かき左市) and Sawamura Kunitaro III (澤村國太郎) as keisei (courtesan) Asatsuma (けいせい浅妻); (L) Jitsukawa Gakujurô II (実川額十郎) as kagokaki (palanquin bearer) Ukanza (駕かき烏勘三) in Keisei hana no tôriya (けいせい華通矢), Naka Theater, Osaka
Hironobu ga (on each sheet)
Artist seal: none
suri-shi Horikame (摺師堀亀)
(H x W)
chûban diptych nishiki-e
24 x 35.4 cm
Excellent deluxe edition with metallics and burnishing
Excellent color, unbacked; minor grime on palanquin, tiny, expertly restored metallic-burn-through hole at tip of lower hilt, tarnishing of Enjaku’s robe (not considered a defect for this particular blue pigment)
Price (USD/¥):
$525 / Contact us to pay in yen (¥)

Order/Inquiry: Ref #HNB10



Hironobu HNB10The plot of the play Keisei hana no tôriya (possibly meaning "A courtesan and a connoisseur's oath"?) is unknown to us.

A shikake ("loose flap": 仕掛) composition features a hinged flap that when lifted reveals an alternate view of the design. Although found occasionally in Edo printmaking, shikake are virtually unknown in kamigata-e. In the image above, we have shown the diptych with the flap down and a detail with the flap up. In addition, on the right, we have provided a view of the back of the print to demonstrate how the printers added the figure of Asatsuma, which has been glued down over a cut-out area under the flap. This is an exceptional opportunity to collect an example from Osaka.


In this example, the courtesan Asatsuma is seated inside a kago ("vehicle basket" or palanquin: 駕籠 or simply 駕) with the blinds drawn. Only when the flap is raised can she be seen, along with the actor and role names in red cartouches on the underside of the flap (compare diptych and detail above). Keisei translates roughly as "castle toppler," slang for a courtesan among the highest ranks, although the term was not used to designate a particular grade of prostitute.

The main part of the play title (hana no tôriya: 華通矢) is given in the large red cartouche at the top left of the left sheet.

Backgrounds with "plaid" patterns were popular in kamigata-e during the 1860s-70s, a reflection of the increasingly innovative textile weaving techniques in the region.

The printer-publisher for this design was suri-shi Horikame (摺師堀亀). Horikame was likely a master printer who also distributed the design and thus acted as a publisher.

References: IBKYS-III, no. 439 (inv H096-01, 02); KNP-7, p. 132; IKB-I, no. 2-560