Just across the canal from Osaka's Dôtonbori theater district was an area called Shimanouchi, the city's
largest unofficial pleasure quarter. Shimanouchi hosted an annual parade early each summer featuring waitresses,
geisha, and courtesans dressed in costumes while performing skits or pantomimes about well-known figures from
contemporary society, theater, history, and legend. In this colorful pageant the women were accompanied by decorative
floats carrying musicians and dancers.
In the summer of 1836 a series of prints, including ours, were designed by Sadahiro, Hokuei, Sadanobu I, Shigeharu, and
Hokuju to commemorate the parade.
In her pantomime for the costume parade, Matsuume is dressed as a maid servant holding a leafy branch and a football
suspended with a decorative red cord (presumably intended to aid in a more visible display during the parade). The
deerskin ball was used in the ancient aristocratic game of kemari ("kick ball"), in which four to
eight male players kicked a ball aloft for as long as possible without allowing it to touch the ground.
The fan (ôgi) is inscribed with the subject (hashitame or "maid servant"), while the
upper part of the cartouche bears the series title, Shimanouchi nerimono ("Costume parade in Shimanouchi"). The lower part of the cartouche gives the name of her establishment as the "Moritaya" — particularly interesting because in slightly later examples of this design, the name was changed to the "Nakamorishin" (read alternatively, the "Chûshinken") — see references below. The publisher seal at the lower
right includes Tenki's address: Osaka shinsaibashi hachimansui Tenki.
It is probably coincidental, but the artist's seal reading "Sada" seems to be drawn in a somewhat anthropomorphic manner, as if "Sada" were walking along with Matsuume in the parade.
References: IKBYS-III, no. 93; SCH, no. 267