Home‎ > ‎Artists‎ > ‎Kamei Tōbei  (1901-1977)‎ > ‎

Shimabara District After the Rain from the series New Views of Kyoto

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Shimabara District After the Rain

from the series New Views of Kyoto

by Kamei Tōbei, c. mid-1950s

Kamei Tōbei  (1901-1977)

IHL Cat. #1126

About This Print

A postcard-size print (approx. 5 x 6.5 in.) depicting the main gate entrance to Shimabara, Kyoto's former red-light districts after a night rain.  When this print was made, Shimabara was still a licensed entertainment area.  "The sign on the stand to left says 'tako' - the 'yaki' is left off, but I think that's what most people assume. Tako yaki are little bready balls with bits of octopus inside, popular street fare." A crude drawing of an octopus appears to the right on the stands curtain. (See detail below.)

A different impression, shown below, from the collection of the The Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama appears to be printed from different blocks.   Kamei also created a much earlier 1926 version of the same locale as can be seen in the other print pictured below from Ritsumeikan University's Art Research Center.

While the print is undated, the attribution to Kamei Genbei, Genbei being a name used by Kamei after 1953, suggests a mid-1950s or later publishing.  This print is almost certainly from the series New Views of Kyoto as are nine other prints in the collection.

版画集 『新京都名所 [New Views of Kyoto]』 原画 3 
 島原廓雨後 [Shimabara District After the Rain]
はんがしゅう しんきょうとめいしょ げんが 3 しまばらくるわうご
亀井 玄兵衞 (かめい げんべい) [Kamei Genbei (1901-1977)]
制作年不詳 [production year unknown]
本紙12.1×15.8cm [4.76 x 6.22 in.] /ページ寸22.8×27.8 cm [size of page print is mounted on.]
The Agency of Cultural Affairs - Cultural Heritage Online
[from the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama]

島原大門出口ノ柳 [Shimabara Main Gate and Willow]
成立年 1926 (昭和前期)
亀井藤兵衛 [Kamei Tōbei]
Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University UP2241

1 With thanks to Japanese art historian extraordinaire, Lynn Katsumoto.

Shimabara District

Shimabara, located to the west of Nishi-Honganji Temple along Hanayacho Street in Kyoto, is a former licensed courtesan and later geisha area of the city.

The first licensed "entertainment area" in Kyoto was established by Toyotomi Hideyoshi at the junction of present-day Nijo and Yanaginobanba. This later moved to an area just to the north of Nishi-Honganji and then again in 1640 to where it stands today, in an area known at the time as Nishishinyashiki, but popularly referred to as "Shimabara," perhaps after the uprising by peasants in Shimabara in Kyushu from 1637-1638 or the resemblance of the main gate to that at Shimabara Castle. No-one really knows for sure!

Shimabara prospered as red-light district until 1958 when prostitution was made illegal in Japan and the geisha quarter survived until the 1970s. Shimabara was one of the three main licensed prostitution quarters established by the Tokugawa regime to control the practice. The other two were Yoshiwara in Edo (Tokyo) and Shinmachi in Osaka. Originally the Shimabara Pleasure Quarters would have been enclosed by a wall and surrounded by a moat.

The entrance gate to Shimabara still stands and is a fine narrow, wooden gate with a tiled roof. A stack of wooden buckets stands by the gate as a reminder of the threat of fire to the wooden buildings that once stood within. Two former teahouses/restaurants/bordellos remain from the Edo Period.

Shimabara gate today

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1126
 Title Shimabara District After the Rain  Shimabara kuruwa ugo しまばらくるわ雨後
 Series New Views of Kyoto 新京都名所
 Kamei Tōbei  (1901-1977)
 not signed
unread artist's seal 
 Date c. mid-1950s
 Edition unknown
 Publisher unknown
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - backed with stiff paper (likely the original mounting trimmed)
 Genre sosaku hanga (creative print)
 Format yotsugiri
 H x W Paper and Image 4 13/16 x 6  3/8 in. (12.22 x 16.19 cm)
 Collections This Print The Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama
 Reference Literature