Hasegawa Settan 長谷川雪旦 (d. 1843)
Illustrations of Famous Places in Edo
(Edo meisho zu-e 江戸名所図絵), vol. 17

Japan, Edo period (1615-1868), 1836
Woodblock-printed book; ink on paper
Hill, Norman D., 1938 (1960)

In 1836, Hasegawa Settan published this 20-volume illustrated guide to Edo that would become a model for the later print series One Hundred Views of Edo (issued serially between 1856 and 1859) by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858). The fact that the volume displayed here concludes with a discussion of the Yoshiwara is a testament to the brothel district’s immense popularity.

In this view from the north (the opposite of the view in Utagawa Toyoharu’s print exhibited nearby) the figures in the immediate foreground walk towards the entrance gate (at the center of the right page) and proceed down Naka-no-chō Boulevard, which angles to the left as it recedes into the distance. Along this main street and the smaller alleys that branch off from it are the various brothels, teahouses, and houses of assignation.

At the top of the left page, the author writes a sentimental ode to the pleasure quarters:

On a dark night / the Yoshiwara / Six days and nights / shake that horn.
(An no yo / Yoshiwara / muyuka nichiya / fure sono tsuno)

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