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Theatrical Scene from the Play Twin Butterflies

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Theatrical Scene from the Play Twin Butterflies
Theatrical Scene from the Play Twin Butterflies: A Diary of the Entertainment Quarter

ca. 1857
Edo Period (1600-1868)
14 5/16 x 19 11/16 in. (36.4 x 50 cm)

Utagawa Kunisada I
Japanese (1786 - 1864)

Full Title:Theatrical Scene from the Play Twin Butterflies: A Diary of the Entertainment Quarter
Object Type: Print
Medium and Support: Color woodcut
Credit Line: Transfer from the Art Department of the University of Rochester
Accession Number: 1997.50
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Location: Not currently on view

This print depicts the "Ukamuse Scene" that opens one version of the kabuki play Twin Butterflies: A Diary of the Entertainment Quarter. Famous for its high view of the city, the Ukamuse, its name spelled out here on the lanterns overhead, was a popular restaurant in the Shitennôji section of Osaka. In this scene, the elegant youth Yamazaki Yogorô (Yobei), played by the actor Nakamura Tomijûrô, is being lavishly entertained by the gorgeously-dressed courtesan Azuma of the Fujiya. Two other women look on as Azuma, accompanied by two female musicians, dances for him; another woman pours his sake from a warming kettle. The composition of this work is especially arresting: the long diagonal serves both to provide a sense of perspective within the room and divide the indoor space from the cityscape far below.

Written by the playwrights Takeda Izumo, Miyoshi Shôraku and Namiki Sôsuke, Twin Butterflies: A Diary of the Entertainment Quarter was first performed at Osaka's Takemoto-za Theater in 1749.

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