The Young Maiden Oshichi


The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. From the series Edo Meisho (Famous sites of Edo), this 1867 print portrays Yaoya Oshichi (1666–83), the young daughter of a greengrocer. The koma-e (vignette image) above her head shows a famous place in Edo known as Ai no Uchi. When the family house burned down in the great fire of 1682, Oshichi and her father took refuge in a temple, where Oshichi fell in love with a young man who was studying there. Father and daughter returned home once their house was rebuilt, but, in order to return to the temple to be with her love, Oshichi set fire to the house again. Her punishment was execution by fire in 1683 when she was 17. Oshichi’s story is recounted in Kabuki drama and puppet theater, where her character is portrayed in a kimono bearing the distinctive starburst-like hemp design associated with her.

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Publication Information

Masuda Shop before the Temple of the Shiba Shinmei mae, Japan


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Physical Description

1 print : woodcut, color ; 38 x 25.4 centimeters


  • From the series: Edo meisho awase no uchi : Famous sites of Edo.

Last updated: September 18, 2015