Suzuki Harunobu, Amusements at an Archery Gallery

Suzuki Harunobu, ca. 1724-1770

Amusements at an Archery Gallery

from an untitled series; the young woman holds her sleeve to her chin in a gesture of embarrassment or hesitation as he draws her closer in order to kiss, she obligingly reaches between his legs in spite of her coy demeanor, to the left is an arrangement of autumnal flowers in a tokonoma, and to the right is a black lacquer container holding several arrows, ca. 1769-71

chuban yoko-e 8 1/8 by 11 1/4 in., 20.7 by 28.5 cm

The container of arrows suggest this is a private room at a yaba (or yokyuba), a public archery gallery. Similar to restaurants, teahouses and other locations for popular amusements, yaba were often fronts for prostitution and saiken (guidebooks) were produced in order to navigate their various merits and offerings. This young lady was likely a waitress or geisha sent to entertain a customer with her shamisen. The untidy tray with overturned sake cup, remains of a snack, and chopsticks askew suggest that he has been enjoying her company and solicited her for additional pleasures.

Reference:
Shirakura, Eiri shunga ehon mokuroku, 2007, p. 228

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