Twelve Hours of the Green Houses, Kitagawa Utamaro – Part II/IV

In this Fifth Day of the Month of Grass that Grows Dense
Edo time: the Hour of the Sheep
Tokyo time: 14:00hrs
Brussels time, 06:00hrs…

We follow a day in a courtesan’s life, somewhere in Yoshiwara…

{The Hour of the Sheep – Hitsuji no koku – 2 pm – 4 pm}

It is the hour of the Sheep, around 2 o’clock in the afternoon. It’s early and rather quiet in Yoshiwara; customers are still few and far between. At the extreme left of the composition, we can see a book and divination sticks placed on a square fabric. This detail suggests the presence of a soothsayer about to offer his predictions to the courtesan; his remuneration is contained in two small packets in cloth. During this consultation an apprentice amuses herself by reading the lines on the palm of the young assistant.

8a

{The Hour of the Monkey – Saru no koku – 4 pm – 6 pm}

The Hour of the Monkey is around 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Before the start of the night shift, it is time for the parade of courtesans of the highest rank (the only ones who are entitled) in Nakanocho, the central artery of Yoshiwara. The courtesan here, belonging to this elite, appears in all her sumptuous attire, on Nakanocho. She is escorted by an apprentice courtesan and a young assistant by her side whose only the hair ornaments are visible.

9a

{The Hour of the Cock – Tori no koku – 6 pm – 8 pm}

At the time of the Cock, around 6 o’clock in the evening, the night shift begins in the Green Houses. A courtesan was called by a teahouse. She is lead by an employee of the establishment, who illuminates her path with a lantern borrowed from Ogiya home, according to the image on it.

10a

Twelve Hours of the Green Houses (1794–1795) is a day and a night in the private life of the courtesans of Yoshiwara — the pleasure district of the capital Edo, present day Tōkyō. To begin the cycle, start with Twelve Hours of the Green Houses, Kitagawa Utamaro – Part I.

Scanned from an edition containing 55 print reproductions, details and annotations about Utamaro’s work, published by the Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels in 2012.

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9 thoughts on “Twelve Hours of the Green Houses, Kitagawa Utamaro – Part II/IV

  1. Pingback: Twelve Hours of the Green Houses, Kitagawa Utamaro – Part IV/IV « Lia in Brussels

  2. Pingback: Twelve Hours of the Green Houses, Kitagawa Utamaro – Part III/IV « Lia in Brussels

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