Artist: Nobukazu Yosai (1872-1944) Title: Beauties Playing Music in front of a Garden Publisher: Yokoyama Ryohachi Date: 1890 Size: (L) 23.4 x 37.2 (C) 24.4 x 37.3 (R) 23.8 x 37 cm Nobukazu Yosai was considered the best student of Yoshu Chikanobu (1838-1912), who worked in a variety of genres from pictures of beautiful women (bijinga) to famous views of modernizing Tokyo (kaika-e), including depictions of domestic industrial exhibitions, depictions of the emperor and empress, and Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese War prints (senso-e). In this print, five ladies are playing a variety of instruments in front of a garden. The Tokugawa period saw the emergence of three important instruments: the koto, the shamisen and the shakuhachi. These instruments have a large repertoire for both solo and combined performance and are known as sankyoku (‘music for three’) in ensemble form. By the mid 17th century the koto had begun to develop its own instrumental and vocal repertoire, gaining popularity among the urban merchant classes. The instruments kept their popularity through the Meiji period.