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Edo Pop Pick: A Beauty Looking at the First Sunrise

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.

This New Year’s Day, we recommend joining Chøki’s beauty in greeting the first sunrise. 

Eishøsai Chøki, active 1789–ca. 1807, A Beauty Looking at the First Sunrise,  1793-96. Color woodblock print (nishiki-e).

Along with book illustrations and some actor prints, Chøki designed many prints of women, including some impressive half-length portraits. This composition, one of his most accomplished productions, is from a four-panel series of beautiful women, commonly known as Shiki no bijin (Beauties in Four Seasons). The woman is enjoying the sunrise on New Year’s Day, the occasion that marked the coming of spring in the lunar calendar. The first sunrise was considered sacred, and people got up early to pray to the sun for health and happiness during the year. A stone washbasin (chøzubachi) in the foreground suggests that this woman has performed ritual ablutions in preparation for her prayers. The potted plant with yellow flowers by the basin is fukujusø (literally, “plant of fortune and longevity”), cultivated to bloom at New Year’s.

Read more about this print!

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