Penki-e

Bathhouse murals fading fast in Tokyo
I’ve never been to a sento in Tokyo, but I’ve seen these murals in Shizuoka and Nagano. The one in Nagano was at an ancient bathhouse with a single medium-sized bath and rust-colored hot water trickling from corroded lead pipes. The room was lit with a single bare bulb, and besides our group, the only other customers were shriveled old ojisans who claimed the rust was good for their kidneys. All I know is that it smelled like old pennies, and I rolled around in the snow outside to wash the rusty coating off my body afterwards. The one Shizuoka was really funny because on the opposite wall was a window from which you could see the actual mountain depicted in the mural (Mt. Fuji).
Like most other disappearing forms of art, I find this extremely sad, but I’m happy I’ve seen the real thing.
BTW, they sell poster replicas of these murals at the Loft (at the Shinsaibashi branch, at least), but they are quite expensive (over 3,000 yen) IMHO.

3 thoughts on “Penki-e”

  1. Dude, I want to take a workshop in “How to paint penki-e” while I’m in Japan! Seriously, how cool is that? Imagine me custom painting your new home in Thailand! Hook me up, Jus!

  2. is there a permalink to that? i’m missing the images…
    is this anything like the big boom in carnival/midway/freak show banners or are these murals more like indian graphicswallah murals?

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