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First Chanting of Noh at the New Year from the series Chiyoda Outer Palace

Tea Ceremony and Flower Arranging in Turn, No. 20 from the series Chiyoda Inner Palace

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

First Chanting of Noh at the New Year

from the series Chiyoda Outer Palace

by Yōshū Chikanobu, 1897

Reading from the series Edo Brocades

IHL Cat. #1173

About This Print

This print is from a series of 32 scenes documenting life for the elite during the later days of the shogunate. In this print, samurai have gathered in a large reception hall in the Chiyoda Outer Palace to "hear the year's first chanting of noh at Edo Castle." The inscription in the center of the print starts off,  "Every year on the evening of the third of the New Year, the first dance of the year is held in the main hall...."2 The inscription goes on to tell us that "selections were performedfrom Oimatsu, Takasago and other plays. The different schools of noh would taketurns annually to present the chants."3

click on image to enlarge
About The Series

The Chiyoda Outer Palace (Chiyoda no on-omote) series of 1897, together with Chikanobu's 1895-1896 series Chiyoda Inner Palace (Chiyoda no Ōoku), provided detailed depictions of life in and around Edo Castle before the Meiji Restoration of 1868.

While the Chiyoda Inner Palace series focused on women in the private quarters of the palace, Chiyoda Outer Palace focused on the society of men, centered on the shogun, inside and outside the castle. The thirty two prints (including one 
hexaptych) show "activities which Chikanobu may have participated in when he was part of the shogun's retinue. This set, too, while more authentic because of Chikanobu's personal experiences, is also an artistic representation, and focuses on the elite side of life in the late Edo period."4

The activities in the Chiyoda Outer Palace series are set both "in the more public areas and grounds of the castle and beyond the castle precincts...as far away as the shogunal mausoleum at Nikkō."5

As with the Chiyoda Inner Place series, the prints were often compiled into albums by both collectors and the publisher. The album of prints shown to the left is complete and includes a table of contents, but album containing less than the full set of prints were also assembled.

1 The British Museum http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=3069321&partId=1
2 Princeton University Art Museum https://artmuseum.princeton.edu/collections/objects/50952
3 The British Museum http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=3069321&partId=1
4 Chikanobu: Modernity and Nostalgia in Japanese Prints, Bruce A. Coats, Hotei Publishing, 2006, p. 170.
5 Princeton University Art Museum https://artmuseum.princeton.edu/collections/objects/24904

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description First Chanting of Noh at the New Year
 O-utai zome 御謡初
 Series Chiyoda Outer Palace
 千代田之御表 Chiyoda no on-omote
 Artist Yōshū Chikanobu (1838-1912)
楊洲周延 Yōshū Chikanobu 
 Seal Toshidama 年玉 (as shown above)
 Publication Date April 6, 1897 (Meiji 30, 6th month, 1st day)
Fukuda Hatsujirō 福田初次郎
[Marks: pub. ref. 070; similar to seal ref. 30-062]
 柘植刀 つげかたな Tsuge Kata na
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - backed with heavy album paper; soiling upper left of center panel; three separate sheets
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Format vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper 
 13 3/4 x 9 1/4 in. (34.9 x 23.5 cm) each sheet
 H x W Image
 same as paper size
 Collections This Print
 The Metropolitan Museum of Art JP-3562; The British Museum 1906,1220,0.1620.1-3; Rekibun Digital Museum 87201393; Ritsumeikan University UP2379, 2380, 2381; Tokyo Metropolitan Library 614-C1-3; Princeton University Art Museum 2005-90.3 a-c
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