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Edo Pop Pick: Segawa Kikunojø III as the Shop Boy Chøkichi

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.

We do not envy retail employees today, but we certainly hope their Black Friday ends better than Chøkichi’s fate!

Utagawa Toyokuni, 1769–1825, Segawa Kikunojø III as the Shop Boy Chøkichi, 1796. Likely from the series Portraits of Actors on Stage, 1795. Color woodblock print (nishiki-e).

Though lacking a title cartouche, this print probably represents the actor Segawa Kikunojø III. The image may have advertised Kikunojø’s role as the young shop clerk Chøkichi in the play Sumida no haru geisha katagi, staged at the Kiri Theater in 1796. Chøkichi is murdered on the banks of the Sumida River by Ume no Yoshibei, who does not realize that the shop clerk is his wife’s younger brother. Here, Kikunojø as Chøkichi is shown with the unshaven forelocks of a youth not yet of age. He seems to be clutching himself and looking nervously about, as if sensing danger in the darkening gloom of night.

Read more about this print!

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