Bato-machi Hiroshige Museum – 5th Anniversary Spring Special Exhibition Kabuki Star Portrait Renaissance! – Enter Sharaku –

Exhibit Period

Thurs. 28th April - Sun. 29th May 2005

Exhibit Times

9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
(last admissions at 4:30 p.m.)

Museum closed

Mondays (except 2nd May)

Admission Fee

Special Exhibition rates Adults: 700yen (630yen)* Student (High school & university): 400yen (360yen)* Elementary/middle school students:100yen (90yen)* * Brackets indicate group rates for groups of twenty or more. Over 70s, pre-school children: Free Disabled people + 1 companion: Half price


This Autumn marks the fifth anniversary of the opening of our museum. In celebration we present this Spring an exhibition introducing the works of Sharaku - one of the six great ukiyo-e masters - and pictures of kabuki stars by other artists of his time.
 Since the birth of ukiyo-e, yakusha-e ("actor pictures"), portraits of popular kabuki stars, were one of its chief subjects. In the early days, stylized figures of actors were identified by family crests painted on their kimono, but by the latter half of the 18th century, the so-called nigao ("face likeness") style had become popular, in which for the first time distinguishing features of individual actors' faces were accurately represented. The stage was set for Toshusai Sharaku to make his appearance on the kabuki portrait scene.
 Toshusai Sharaku is known as an ukiyo-e master whose life is shrouded in mystery. The dates of his birth and death are unknown, but he exploded onto the ukiyo-e scene in 1794 with twenty eight bust portraits of kabuki stars produced through the publisher Tsutaya Juzaburo. Those portraits - true-to life, unbeautified, close-up representations of kabuki actors with a backdrop of crushed mica - were a fresh, unprecedented new style. Sharaku was furiously prolific, his work sending tremors through the yakusha-e world, until - just ten months after his stunning debut - he abruptly vanished.
 Theories abound with regard to Sharaku's sudden and mysterious disappearance, but there can be few doubts concerning the influence exerted upon the ukiyo-e world by the 140 or so pieces he produced during his brief career.
 This exhibition presents an opportunity to view together twenty of the precious Sharaku works. In addition, the panorama of late 18th century to early 19th century yakusha-e is introduced via collected works from various other artists of the period. We invite you to enjoy firsthand the magic of Sharaku and the creative originality of distinguished artists from each of the various yakusha-e styles.

Museum Talk

Presented by our curator - Japanese only
Sat. 30th April, Sat. 14th May, Sat. 28th May Start: 1:30pm.