People in Tokyo in 1805

Kidai Shoran (煕代勝覧) painted at c.a. 1805 depicted various people in the Edo period (1603-1867).

These people are commoners. The left panel shows two men and a male child. The left guy in the panel is wearing only kimono, and the right guy in the same panel is wearing a haori (羽織) jacket over his kimono. Wearing haori jacket was considered to be more formal than wearing only kimono. The style of wearing kimono without haori jacket was called kinagashi (着流し) and considered to be a casual style. On the right panel, two people are chatting with each other in a store in the kinagashi style. The man on the left is a merchant. Can you find an abacus, a necessity of merchants, in front of him? Japanese people had been using abacuses, or soroban (算盤) in Japanese, for calculation before electric calculators became popular in the late 1970s.

When people wore kimono, they considered it important to keep the lower part of kimono around the legs neat. Unintentional exposure of legs was regarded as clumsy and a bad manner even when they were working. When people do muscular labor, however, it is impossible to keep their legs unexposed. In such situations, they intentionally exposed their legs from the beginning by rolling the lower part of their kimono up above their waists. The lower part of the kimono was fixed at the waist by inserting it under the belt on the back. The man in the left panel is doing that. This style was called shirippashori (尻っぱしょり) and often regarded as manly and "cool". The man on the right is wearing a short kimono instead of doing shirippashori. Both men are wearing hachimaki (鉢巻), or Japanese-style headbands. They are for avoiding sweat to enter into their eyes.

The left panel shows a mother in a green kimono and her daughter in a yellowish one. They are wearing kimono in a formal way at the period; the mother, or a married woman, has a knot of the belt, or obi (帯), in front, whereas the daughter, or an unmarried woman, has the knot on her back. Since the knot in front interferes with the movement of the upper body, the habit of married women to make knots in front was gradually changed to make the knot on the back in the late Edo period. So women today make the knot on their back regardless of their marital status. Also seen in the illustration in the left panel is that the daughter is wearing a kimono with long sleeves, or furisode (振り袖). This habit that unmarried women wear long-sleeved kimono is still seen in Japan. The middle and right panels show women wearing scarves called okoso-zukin (御高祖頭巾). Okoso-zukin started to be in fashion among women in the 1720s-1730s, and it had been popular among women until Meiji period (1868-1912). The following photo was taken in the early Meiji period.

The women in the following illustration is carrying something wrapped in furoshiki (風呂敷).

They seem to have bought many goods. Furoshiki is just a large square cloth, but it is convenient for wrapping and carrying goods of various sizes. You can see how various goods are wrapped in furoshiki here.

The men in the above illustrations are samurai in full dress, indicating that they are on duty. They are wearing kamishimo jackets on the upper bodies and hakama trousers on the lower part of their bodies. Kamishimo was a jacket evolved from jinbaori (陣羽織) jacket worn over yoroi armor. The shoulder line of kamishimo was kept straight by inserting baleen. Both men are wearing swords on their waists. Samurai always wore two swords; one was a long sword, which is called katana (刀), and another was a short sword called wakizashi (脇差). Can you find two swords on the waist of each samurai?

These samurai are wearing hakama trousers. They are wearing haori jackets instead of kamishimo jackets, indicating that they are off duty. The samurai in the above illustrations would look to be relaxed when compared to the samurai in the previous illustrations, wouldn't they? Even when they are off duty, however, samurai almost always wore hakama when they went outside. It was a preparation for a possible accidental fight. If they fight in kinagashi style without hakama trousers, they would have to expose their legs during the fight, which was regarded as clumsy as I mentioned earlier.

These people are servants of samurai. Have you noticed that each guy is wearing only a single sword? Although I am not sure, their swords are probably wakizashi, or short swords, which were not regarded as katana. They are doing shirippasyori by folding the lower part of their kimono since they have to work around for their masters.

This is a tea stand on the street. On the right bench are two commoners. The man on the left bench is perhaps a samurai. The waitress serving tea is wearing a small red apron. We can still find similar tea houses in the grounds of some Buddhist temples in Kyoto.

Here I stop writing today. I will write more about people in Kidai Shoran in the next update. The update will be slow as always. Please be patient!

Related Post:
(1) Tokyo in 1805
(2) People in Tokyo in 1805 (this post)
(3) Disabled people and musicians in Tokyo in 1805