Sode ga ura, the Bay of Sleeves

Accession Number

Sode ga ura, the Bay of Sleeves

Utagawa Toyokuni I

Artist Nationality
Japanese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
circa 1790 - circa 1806

Medium & Support
large full-color woodblock print (nishiki e) on paper, large-format (ôban), triptych

14 in. x 9 5/8 in. ( 35.56 cm x 24.45 cm )

Credit Line
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker

Label copy
An important innovation in print designs of the 1780s had been Torii Kiyonaga’s introduction of outdoor settings for his "beautiful women." Here Toyokuni is once again working in Kiyonaga’s mode; the difference with Kiyonaga’s Takanawa print of a decade earlier (1960/1.143) shows how much Edo print artists had learned about representing three-dimensional space in the interim. The new sophistication may be attributed in part to the influence of European prints, filtered through many intermediaries.
The seaside was the outdoor summer playground of Edo: there were dozens of public beaches within a half-day’s walk of the city. Then as now, vendors set up wood-and-bamboo stalls to hawk savories such as roasted squid, or sweets made from red bean paste. In this panoramic view of Sode ga ura (the "Bay of Sleeves," an inlet of Tokyo Bay), the foreground is filled with well-attired tourists, returning from a day at the shore. They carry a full array of seasonal paraphernalia: a sun parasol, fans, and toys as souvenirs for the children.
M. Graybill
"Courtesans, Cross-Dressers, and the Girl Next Door Images of the Feminine in Japanese Popular Prints"
3/9 - 9/1/02

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
color print

Collection Area

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2 Related Resources

(Part of 5 Learning Collections)
Japan Pax Tokugawa 1600-1868
(Part of: Empires and Colonialism)

& Author Notes

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