Utagawa Hiroshige III (1843-1994), The Hisamatsu-za (Meiji-za) Kabuki Theater in Prosperity, 1878, woodblock print, 36.5 x 75 cm
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An engaging example is this triptych by Hiroshige III of the Kabuki Theater Hisamatsu-za, which offers a detailed view of the bustling main street Kawa-dóri in the district Hisamatsu-cho in Tokyo. In the center we see the impressive building of the theater Hisamatsu-za, flanked on both sides by tea houses. It is very interesting to see Hiroshige III‘s detailed portraits of residents on the street. We see many combinations of old and modern clothing and fashionable western items like umbrellas and handbags. Modern vehicles, jinrikisha (rickshaw) thread their way through the crowded Kawa-dori. The scene is of the rapidly modernizing life of Tokyo during the first decade of Meiji Period (1868-1912) and is a terrific example of a Kaika-e (“picture of Japan–modernizing civilization influenced by the West”) of the period, during which time the country willingly accepted and actively imported many aspects of western civilization into their daily lives.
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