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Edo Pop Pick: Lovers Plying a Rooster with Sake

Posted on by Minneapolis Institute of Arts

In celebration of our newest show, Edo Pop, each week, we are giving you a taste of the sensuality, fashion, and decadent entertainment of young urban sophisticates of Japan’s pre-modern era. If you haven’t experienced Edo Pop yet (or even if you already have), stop on by the MIA!  Read more about the exhibition here.

Have you ever wished morning would never come?

Suzuki Harunobu, 1724/25–70, Lovers Plying a Rooster with Sake, ca. 1767. Color woodblock print (nishiki-e).

A hallmark of Harunobu’s artistic vision is his charming, if somewhat unlikely, depiction of young lovers. Here, a couple gives sake to a rooster in hopes the bird will become too intoxicated to crow, thus prolonging their time together before the household awakens. Seen through the open sliding door, a lantern in the adjoining room indicates it is still early morning, before the previous evening’s accoutrements have been stowed away. However, beyond the woven fence, a deutzia (unohana), which blossoms in summer, hints that dawn will come early, adding urgency to the lovers’ antics. The details and comic quality of this scene suggest that Harunobu may have adopted it from a humorous passage in a Kabuki or Kyøgen play, although such a scene has not yet been identified.

Read more about this print!

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