Winter Accommodation, Seasonal Rite of Cleaning Up (Fuyu no Yado Karei no Susuhaki)
Painted by Utagawa Toyokuni III 1855 (Ansei 2) Shinshyu washo betsu 134

This illustration shows the scene of Susuharai, the annual custom of indoor cleaning and the cleansing of shrines. In the Edo period, Susuharai was set to take place on December 13th and so this was a kind of Shinto event called such names as 'Jū san-nichi (13th) Sekku'.


The tradition called "Susuharai", or the year-end cleanup, was enjoyable only when all the work was finished. As it can be seen in this painting, people enjoyed eating onigiri (rice balls) and nishime (simmered vegetables) contained in a lacquered box. This was called "osame no iwai" (celebration of finishing the cleanup) at which the food and wines were offered to the people who joined the cleaning. During the occasion, some people were being tossed in the air in celebration and others made a special performance. Indeed, this ukiyo-e depicts not only the occasion of "susuharai" actually held at the end of each year, but represents another meaning. This nishiki-e (colored wood-block prints) was published in November, 1855 (Ansei 2), which was one month after the Ansei Earthquake. It has been pointed out that this painting has a purpose to let the public know of the fact that these actors survived the earthquake, as it can be understood that this depicts the neighborhood of Saruwaka-cho, as the rooftop of Sensōji and the five-story tower are painted behind two people. These two people in this painting were supposedly popular kabuki actors such as Nakamura Kantarō and Iwai Kumesaburō, as Shibai-machi was still in chaos.

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