2009-02-01

Tokyo in 1805

Kidai Shōran (煕代勝覧) is a 12-metre-long picture scroll which describes a street in the City of Edo (present Tokyo). It was painted approximately 200 years ago, ca.1805. The street corresponds to a part of present Chuo-dori street, which is between JR Kanda Station and Tokyo Metro Nihonbashi Station shown in red in the above map. The painting provides the exact location of buildings along the street and daily lives of people there at the time.

The above illustration is from the right-most part of Kidai Shōran. The bridge at the right side was called Imagawa-bashi (今川橋), or Imagawa Bridge. There is no bridge at the site now, but the name of the bridge remains as a name of a crossing. The following google street view shows a southward view from the Imagawa-bashi crossing, which corresponds to the leftward view from the bridge in the above illustration.


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Can you differentiate samurai from commoners in the illustration? Samurai have swords on their waists.


The fashion and stuff in the Edo period may look strange for those who are unfamiliar with them. I'll get into some details of them in the posts to follow. Please don't expect, however, quick update in this blog; it takes much time for me to write anything in English.

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

2 comments:

Thomas said...

In one of the pictures, on the left side, there is a woman in yellow with a small child. She has the obi of her robe tied behind her back. Is she an unmarried woman with a child?

Aki said...

Thomas,
In the early 19th century, it seems that married women tied obi in front only in formal situations. The woman you mentioned is probably a married woman.

Until early Edo period, both men and women usually tied obi in front. At that time, width of obi was narrow. But in the early Edo period, Kabuki actors started to use gorgeous wide obi. Seeing them, wide obi became popular among young women. Since wide obi interferes with the movement of upper body, young women wearing wide obi tied them behind their backs. In the beginning, that craze was only among unmarried women, so married women were wearing narrow obi as before. However, the width of obi of married women also gradually became wider and wider affected by unmarried women. In the early 19th century when this scroll was painted, both unmarried and married women wore wide obi, so they usually tied their obi behind their backs.

The following screens were painted in the 16th-17th century. You can see people wearing narrow obi.

"Maple Viewing at Takao" by Kano Hideyori (16th century)

"Cherry Blossom Viewing" by Kano Naganobu (1577-1654)