Artist: Suzuki Harunobu (鈴木春信)

Print: Wild Pinks (寄花): The Rokō girl (Rokō musume - 路考娘, nadeshiko), from the series Beauties of the Floating World Compared to Flowers (Ukiyo bijin yosebana - 浮世美人季)

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Dates: 1770,created
Dimensions: 7.625 in,10.75 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Signed: Harunobu ga (春信画)

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Honolulu Museum of Art; Ritsumeikan University - b & w image only; Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; Lyon Collection - Masanobu print of a fan vendor similar to this one;

Physical description:

Rokō musume, the young woman standing in the entryway, is looking at the young man (?) who is carrying a stack of boxed fans and looking back at her. The name Rokō is a reference to the actor Segawa Kikunojō whose poetry name was Rokō. His mon or crest is a bundle of silk floss (yuiwata) tied off in the middle. This is part of the design of obi of Rokō musume further strengthening the connection with the famous actor who specialized in female roles.

Other plant motifs are visible in this print. Bracken decorate the lower part of the wall of the interior and Rokō is holding a fan with an iris pattern. On the other hand, the sleeve of the robe of the fan peddler shows a chain of monkeys linked one to the other. This can be seen best in the example in Boston.

Rokō is compared to the wild carnation or pink in the poem printed at the top. Part of it reads:

On a bright day
What especially comes to mind
Is the wind blowing
Over harvested rice fields
There are no wild carnations here.


"Rokō-musume, wearing an obi with the repeated mon of Segawa Kikunojō, stands at the door of a tobacco shop (takako-ya). Beside her on the floor is a whetstone (to-ishi) in a tub. She holds a round fan (dansen) with a design of iris, and looks out at a young itinerant fan-seller who hold a stack of fan boxes on his shoulder and glances back at her. Behind him is partly visible a display table belonging to the shop, with labelled lacquer boxes of tobacco on top; and a large detached shōji leans against the wall beside it. The shōji is painted with a large tobacco leaf, and we also see the character Koku- (of Kokubu, a type of tobacco). Above a stylised cloud line are the titles of the print, and the following poem:

teru hi ni mo
omou naka ni wa
fuku kaze no
chiri dani suenu
tokonatsu no hana

On a sunny day,
in the midst of peaceful thoughts,
the wind came blowing
and deposited dust on
the flowers of the wild pink!


Jack Hillier speculated about a short text published in 1769, Azuma no hanajiku, which refers to Segawa Kikunojō II as Rokō-musume where great beauties are compared to famous actors.

"Tachibana-chō: Rokō-musume

Since she is the living image of Segawa Kikunojō, she is nicknamed Rokō-musume. I do not know about China or India, but in the land of Japan there is nobody like this mistress. Her nose line is well-shaped, and in its whiteness wonderfully resembles snow. Her neckline is very much like that of a lily; and the fineness of her fingertips is no different from that of the girls who sell tooth-picks in the precincts of Asakusa Kannon. In nothing does she go to excess, and her manners are elegant. She is a great expert at Gidayū singing, and good at nagata shamisen and dancing. Her hair-do is neither flashy nor plain; she has a strong dislike for tasteless jokes; and to anyone who did not know her she would give all the appearance of having a samurai upbringing." (Ibid.)

"The Tachibana-chō, not far from Ryōgoku Bridge, was celebrated in the Edo period as a haunt of disreputable dancing girls (odoriko)..." (Ibid.)


There is another copy of this print in the museum in Philadelphia.