Woodblock Print of a Sencha Guest Reception With a Tall Brazier

Object ID: 1988.002.007
Object: Woodblock Print, Woodblock Print of a Sencha Guest Reception With a Tall Brazier (Koro Geihin Sencha no Zu), triptych, colors on paper
Place of Origin: Japan
Artist: Mizuno Toshikate (1866-1908)
Signature: Toshikata
Seal: Toshikata
Date: Meiji Period, dated 1897
Credit: Gift of Martha McCormack

Sencha is tea made by steeping young green teen leaves. There is also a form of tea ceremony called sencha, using this kind of tea, developed in Japan around the beginning of the 18th century. The first Japanese to promote the sencha tea ceremony were disenfranchised sinophile intellectuals who sought to live in seclusion, recreating the lifestyle of ancient Chinese sages. The sencha tea ceremony was a rebellion against the overly formalized etiquette of chanoyu, the form of tea ceremony using powdered tea, which today is hailed as the embodiment of Japanese cultural values. In time, enjoyment of sencha spread from scholars to the general populace. By the mid-19th century, sencha had eclipsed chanoyu in popularity. Although the sencha tea ceremony declined precipitously in the late 19th century as Japanese attitudes toward China changed, steeped green tea remains Japan’s most popular beverage.

Toshikata first learned print design from Taiso Yoshitoshi, developing a crisp, angular line very much in Yoshitoshi’s style. Concentrating on figurative prints and paintings, he became well-known to the public for his work at the Yamato Shimbun newspaper, where he succeeded Yoshitoshi as illustrator.