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Kawase Hasui

Evening at Soemoncho (1933)

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About the Art

Before the second world war, the district of Soemoncho in Osaka was a bustling social center. Serving as an important stop for merchants and sailors arriving by river, there were many ways to spend time at leisure, with hundreds of tea houses, courtesans and as many as 600 geisha.

Spending your evenings at Soemoncho, and even being the subject of romantic gossip was considered a symbol of high status, and way to secure fame in the city.

Hasui captures a moment of relative stillness, as two ornately-dressed geisha walk past an open door with light streaming towards them, almost acting as a spotlight. A few other figures make their way along the street.

Given the low-energy of the street, the bowed heads of the pedestrians and the hint of the glow of a rising sun in the night sky, it's possible we are seeing people beginning to head home in the early hours of the morning.

This print hails from Hasui's series: “Collection of Scenic Views of Japan II, Kansai Edition”, drawn on his travels to Nara, Kyoto and Osaka in 1933.

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