MEIJI JAPAN 1868 - 1912
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Triptych of the Meiji Imperial Court attending the horse races around Shinobazu Pond in Ueno Park. A festive atmosphere prevails with strings of colourful items decorating the viewing pavilion and small toys descending from fireworks (paper figures shot from bamboo cannons) exploding in the sky. The toys include a tiger and small figures of Daruma and the lucky god Fukurokuju. Fountains spray in the centre of the pond as the riders make their way around the track. A lively scene with vivid colour and fine detail and a dramatic panoramic view of the race track.

In November 1884 the emperor attended the opening of the race track around Shinobazu Pond and his attendance that year and the next was advertised in advance with colour prints.
The Emperor still felt uncomfortable with the modern notion of appearing together with his wife in public, and they usually attended such functions on successive days. They inclusion was often a matter of artistic license.
Apparently it was General Grant who first suggested that the ground around Shinobazu Pond would be suitable for a racetrack, resulting in the destruction of much natural scenic beauty. The track was in operation for ten short years and seems to have been intended less as a recreational facility than as a place for the display of horsemanship, a good, healthy sport associated with martial skills and the national defence. The Emperor himself was very keen on horse breeding and often rode on the extensive bridal paths of the imperial park. There were those among his Western critics, however, who claimed he did not look well in the saddle: “ He is a skilful and daring horseman, it is said, but he rides in the Japanese style, sitting all in a heap like a bag of meal, his legs dangling straight down on each side of the horse, and his elbows twitching and jerking with every motion of the animal. Even a descendant of the gods and Son of Heaven could not make this style of riding dignified, according to our ideas.” Extract from Chapter III, Prints for the Good of the Nation. The world of the Meiji Print: Impressions of a New Civilization by Julia Meech-Pekarik page.114.

Reference. :      The world of the Meiji Print: Impressions of a New Civilization by Julia Meech-Pekarik.



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