Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769-1825)
The Fan Store Eijudō
Japan, Edo period, c. 1800
Woodblock print triptych; ink and color on paper
Gift of James A. Michener, 1991
Honolulu Museum of Art
A lantern reading “Eijudō: Fans and Other Merchandise” stands on the far left, at the entrance to a shop in which elegantly dressed customers look at folding fans and fan-shaped paintings for sale. The owner of Eijudō (and publisher of the present triptych), Nishimuraya Yohachi, was a publisher of woodblock prints, but did not specialize in fans, or, as far as anyone knows, operate a business such as this one. Inscribed on the large decorative fan partially visible on the back wall in the upper right is the actual name of the store, the Mieidō, a well-known fan shop in Kyoto. The prominently placed “Eijudō” sign and the implied association with a fashionable clientele, however, make the print an effective advertisement for the publishing house.
The work contains interesting genre details: a young boy plays with a litter of puppies, and a sword, tobacco pouch and pipe (belonging to a well-dressed young man examining a fan) lie just within the store proper. Additionally, a different fan admired by the woman on the right features an image of a Kabuki actor from the Ichikawa Danjūrō line in a performance of “Shibaraku!” (with Toyokuni’s signature above the figure), a reminder that Toyokuni was also a renowned designer of actor prints.