Artist: Utagawa Hiroshige
Title: Cooling of the Evening at Shijo Riverbank
Date: c. 1834
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Kawadoko, a riverside dinner, is an ingenious way to enjoy a long summer evening with friends. As shown in this print, a kawadoko seating area is typically large enough to hold an entire party of people, and in this case, even accommodates a drunken dancer. According to tradition, a wealthy merchant in Kyoto started this style of dining in the Momoyama period (1574-1599) to entertain his guests in the middle of a notoriously hot summer. Illuminated by lanterns, people enjoy dinner in the cool river breeze amid the soothing sounds of flowing water. The Kamo River, depicted here, runs through the center of Kyoto. The tradition of kawadoko is still popular today with many tourists braving Kyoto's summer heat in order to enjoy the experience.