2005 Student Research Conference:
18th Annual Student Research Conference

Fine Arts

Urban Entertainment in 19th Century Japan: Misemono, or Street Exhibits
Steven C. Wachowiak
Dr. Sara Orel, Faculty Mentor

During the nineteenth century, Japan’s urban population experienced steady growth. In the nation’s urban centers, particularly Kyoto, Osaka, and Edo (present-day Tokyo), a form of entertainment arose that appealed to all levels of society and was accessible by the masses. Three prints advertising "misemono" (literally "shows" or "exhibits") are now in a private collection in Kirksville. While misemono can be displays of any novel or amazing item, animal, person, or skill aimed at turning a profit on crowded urban streets and temple grounds, these prints illustrate three specific examples of popular entertainment in nineteenth-century Japan. In addition to discussing the date and subject matter of these particular prints, the presentation will focus on the development of misemono, its defining characteristics, and its many manifestations in various street exhibits.

Keywords: prints, Japan, entertainment

Topic(s):Art History

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 4-5
Location: OP 2210
Time: 9:15

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