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Sanno Festival Procession at Kojimachi 1-chome

Number 51 from the series 100 Famous Views of Edo

Date: originally published 7/1856, the print for sale from the 1891 memorial edition 
Size: oban, approx. 9.5" x 14" overall
Condition: VG, backed, minor flaws as shown
Impression: Fine, excellent registration, solid key lines, surface texture
Color: Fine, deep saturated color and good bleed through to verso
Documentation: One Hundred Famous Views of Edo Brazillier, 1986, print 51
IN THE HEAT OF MIDSUMMER, on the fifteenth day of the Sixth Month, the grand festival of the Sanno Shrine is in progress. Wispy cloud bands hand in the sky as the sun beats down on the blue waters of the Benkei Moat and on the grassy slopes of the high embankment along the southwest side of Edo Castle. The festival procession is shown in the distance at the important symbolic moment when it enters the castle grounds from Kojimachi 1-chome through Hanzo Gate. From there it will pass under the personal review of the shogun himself at Inui Gate, an honor shared only by the Kanda Myojin Shrine festival, with which the Sanno festival alternated every year after 1681. The two together were known popularly as the Tenka Festival. "Tenka" ("all under heaven") being an honorific title of the shogun himself.

The entire procession, of which Hiroshige has characteristically given us only a hint, consisted of more than fifty large floats, some upward of thirty feet high and all lavishly decorated at the expense of the sponsoring parishioners whom we see massed near and far under flower-hats. The two floats depicted here were from two of the oldest commoner districts of the city. Tat of Minami-Denmacho, in the distance, represents a monkey, cap and silken ceremonial gowns with sword in the sash, and holding a wand of sacred gohei.

In the immediate left foreground is the float of Odenma-cho, the so-called Drum-Bird (kankodori), a hugh model of an ornamental rooster with outstretched wings -- we see here only one tip beyond the drooping tail feathers -- perched on a large ceremonial drum, the legendary Chinese "drum of admonition" that sage-kings used to summon and chastise their subjects. In Japan, the drum symbolized a well-ruled country where its use was no longer required, as suggested in the auspicious formula, "the drum gathers moss and the birds are no longer startled (by its sound)."
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