Yokohama Boomtown Image Gallery / Y0146_Childrens_Dance
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Yokohama Gankirō kodomo teodori no zu

Title: Picture of a Children's Dance Performance at the Gankirō in Yokohama
Artist: Yoshikazu (fl. ca. 1850-70)
Format: Woodblock print
Medium: Ink and color on paper
Dimensions: triptych: 36.4 x73.7 cm (14 5/16 x29 in.)
Source: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Wearing elaborate costumes, young girls perform dances at Gankirō, the most prominent establishment in Yokohama's entertainment district. In contrast to Kabuki, in which all roles were played by male actors, the performances of children's dances were exclusively by females. The girls began training in childhood to learn skills they would need as geisha, professional entertainers proficient in dance and vocal or instrumental music. Yoshikazu's triptych is unusual for its vantage point from backstage, from which one looks through the performances toward the audience of foreign men and women. In the foreground, off-stage, the performers dress, apply makeup, and adjust their costumes under the supervision of older women. Above the dressing table to the left are male and female wigs. In the center, two women assist a girl dressed in the costume of a nobleman. On stage, playing male and female roles, two young dancers strike the stylized poses of a dramatic dance. Their performance is lit by candles extended on long poles by stagehands. To the right, men provide sound effects using wooden clappers and a large drum hidden offstage. With its wealth of detail, Yoshikazu's print presents a colorful and convincing illustration of a theatrical performance in the Gankirō. [Adapted from Ann Yonemura, Yokohama: Prints from Nineteenth-Century Japan]

Visualizing Cultures image number: Y0146

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