Katsukawa Shunshô (1726-92)
'Young Lovers Preparing Tea'
From the series 'The Six Poets'
Mitate-e (allusion print), nishiki-e (brocade print)
Museum no. E.586-1903
This print is a mitate-e or 'allusion print'. This was a device whereby classical Japanese or Chinese themes were represented by or alluded to through the depiction of contemporary scenes. In this print, a poem written by Kisen Hôshi (dates unknown) is alluded to by the depiction of tea preparation, probably taking place in the serving area of a busy restaurant.
Waga io wa Thus I live in a cell
miyako no tatsumi southeast of the capital -
shika zo sumu the Mountain of Grief
yo o ujiyama to it is called, they say, by those
hito wa iu nari who find this life hard to bear.
This poem contains a play on words deriving from the fact that Uji is the area to the south-east of Kyoto famous for its tea.
Katsukawa Shunshô produced innovative mitate-e from the end of the Meiwa era (1764-72). This is an early example of his work in this field.
This print can be found in Japanese Print Room Box JP1.