Utagawa Toyokuni I, 1769-1825
Fashionable Five Festivals: Amusements of Girls in the Seventh Month
(Furyu Gosekku: Fumizuki musume asobi)
signed Toyokuni ga with publisher's seal Waka (Wakasaya Yoichi of Jakurindo), ca. 1796
aiban tate-e 13 1/4 by 9 in., 33.5 by 22.9 cm
A beauty seated at a writing table prepares to write a wish upon a narrow slip of paper which will be used as an ornament to hang on a bamboo decoration for the Tanabata Festival. On the desk are her necessary implements: a small inkstone and ink stick, additional brushes, a water dropper in the shape of a teapot, and extra paper in an array of colors. On the floor there is a small pile of decorative paper with completed (or rejected) wishes already inscribed on the top sheets. She pauses, brush in hand, and turns to confer with a companion seated at her side who holds open a copy of a poetry anthology, Ehon Hyakunin shu (Picture Book of One Hundred Poets). Branches of bamboo with Tanabata Festival ornaments are illustrated above within the reserve defined by a stylized cloud.
The Tanabata Festival (or Star Festival), held on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, is based on a legend associated with a celestial event- the meeting of the Vega star and the Altair star across the Milky Way, described in the legend of the married lovers, Orihime (the Weaving Princess, or the Vega star), and Hikoboshi (the Herdsman, or the Altair star). The pair were separated by Orihime's father, Tentei ('heavenly king') after they married because he was angry the Princess had stopped weaving her beautiful silks and Hikoboshi was neglecting his cows. He placed the Amanogawa River (a river of stars, ie. the Milky Way) between them and forbade the two to meet. He was eventually moved by his daughter's tears and relented, allowing them to reunite once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (www.mfa.org), accession no. RES.49.154
Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays by appointment only
Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit between 11am and 4pm for no more than two individuals at a time.
In order to adhere to New York State guidelines visitors are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing.
site last updated
March 5, 2021
Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475
Join our mailing list...