Kikukawa Eizan, ‘Modern Children at Play’, ca. 1814-17, Scholten Japanese Art

each sheet signed Kikugawa Eizan hitsu, with censor's seal kiwame (approved), and publisher's Tsuruki (crane) seal (Tsuruya Kiemon of Senkakudo), ca. 1814-17

oban tate-e triptych 31 1/8 by 15 3/8 in., 79.2 by 38.9 cm

A group of five young women with five children are on an outing to celebrate the New Year. The resplendently dressed beauties appear to be a combination of two courtesans, one at far right holding the hand of a girl, and one in the center with a small boy on her back who holds a miniature kite-type toy, together with three junior companions wearing their hair in a more youthful fashion with red fabric bows. The girl on the far left wears a black furisode ('swinging sleeves') kimono, a style associated with shinzo (teenaged apprentice) courtesans, bearing the tsurumon (crane crest) of Tsuruya Kiemon, the publisher of the print. She adjusts a hairpin while looking up at a shuttlecock in the air near the New Years decoration of kadomatsu ('gate pine') of pine and bamboo. Two of the girls hold hanetsuki (paddles) and one holds a shuttlecock near her mouth. Meanwhile the largest boy at far right holds the string to a large kite marked with the kanji for dragon which two of the other boys are preparing to release on his command. They are enjoying traditional New Year amusements: playing shuttlecock for girls, flying kites for boys.

Image rights: Scholten Japanese Art

Publisher: Tsuruya Kiemon of Senkakudo

John Stevenson, Japanese Kite Prints, The Drachen Foundation, 2004, pp. 58-59, cat. no. 18

About Kikukawa Eizan