4. How is the commentary related to the image in The Drunkard?
In The Drunkard Namayoi depicts a woman with her arm positioned strategically holding a saucer upside down, indicating that she is drunk or tipsy. Her kimono is draped immodestly across her chest and off of her shoulder. Its a little unclear whether the picture is portraying her in a negative light or erotic light, or both. Similarly, in the commentary, there seems to be a condemnation of her drunken behavior but, more so, a humorous re-creation of a scene that would have been very common to participants in the floating world.
The commentary goes like this:
What women should most avoid is saké. Even a courtesan has to be careful what she drinks. For the proper wooing of a courtesan you do not need for the woman to be drunk. And yet there are clients who like a woman who is fond of drink in the mistaken belief that her bedroom tricks will be even better. Here are the words of a drunken prostitute in bed.
And here the language shifts to the slurring words of a drunken person and they go like this:
Oi, thiss crazy. You look like youve got ten faces, sir. I feel like Im in a shop selling scary masks. Oh, stop movin about. Im gonna puke. Agh! I cant stand it. Im fed up being in this rotten job . . .
And at this point the prostitute lapses into drunken song, in which she says: My mans done gone and left me, and sings a song that continues that theme. And then she stops and says, Wait! The rooms goin round n round, like this, and it gives me the creeps. Its horrible!
And then the commentary shifts back to the observers perspective and describes her bumping and crashing into things as she goes out, leaving the client in bed. Finally she keels over. The statement that wraps up the commentary is this:
This is an example of having revealed true feelings under the influence of saké.
Saké is rice wine thats roughly as strong as grape-based wine. This was the alcoholic drink of the pleasure quarters in which these courtesans would have worked.
The language is not modern Japanese. It is colloquial Japanese that was widespread in literary genres and print genres in artistic works from this time period. And it was written in the phonetic alphabet. The literature or the art would be accessible to an audience that would not be able to read classical literature and official documents, but would be able to read the syllabary alphabet thats used here.