Edo Restaurant Ranking 江戸割烹番付

This page is divided into east and west, on the right and left, and gives names by rank, using the terms for sumo wrestlers’ rankings: ozeki, sekiwake, and on down. The format is the same as the printed flyers, familiar to any sumo fan, that present sumo wrestlers’ rankings. Look closely, though, and you will see that it is not sumo wrestlers being ranked. Instead, we have, for example, “Hirasei, Fukagawa Dobashi” and “Momokawa, Ukiyo-shoji,” all exclusive restaurants. A culture of restaurants offering fine cuisine flowered in Edo in, it is thought, the Bunka and Bunsei eras (1804-1830), late in the Edo period. At the places regarded as top-notch, customers were first shown into gorgeous sitting rooms, where they would chat and relax until the staff informed them that the baths were ready. They would wash off the day’s sweat, then go on to enjoy their meal. Regular customers included many heads of major stores as well as literati. For them, a fine restaurant was more than a place to dine: it also functioned as a salon, a place for cultural interchanges. Of course, a lavish evening there would be quite costly. At the Momokawa, for example, the least expensive meal cost 1,000 mon per person, exorbitant indeed when you consider that a bowl of soba noodles then cost about 16 mon. The restaurant names listed in the center of this sheet (under the sumo headings of umpires and promoters) are establishments that do not fit in the east and west rankings and are regarded as exceptional. Yaozen, whose name appears in large script at the very bottom, is one. A restaurant that, reflecting its role as a place where literati socialized, published its own cookbook, Yaozen was also a place where new developments in Edo culture emerged.
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Edo-Tokyo Museum
Edo Restaurant Ranking
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47.1cm x 35.3cm
Edo-Tokyo Museum Digital Archives

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