Scattering Gold in the Flourishing Pleasure Quarter (1886)
The central figure in this triptych is Kinokuniya Bunzaemon, an Edo Period merchant who operated in the late Seventeenth and early Eighteenth Centuries. Kinokuniya was immensely successful in part thanks to the patronage of samurai in the upper echelons of the Tokugawa court, and in turn appeared to be fond of displaying his wealth--as this triptych conveys in portraying him casting about gold coins.
Kinokuniya lived too early to see the opportunities that would have presented themselves to him in the Meiji Era. Prior to the Restoration, a relatively-strict social hierarchy was dominated by the samurai (warrior) class. Experiences within the samurai class varied, but political power was concentrated in the hands of the most highly-ranked samurai. A merchant like Kinokuniya could gain wealth and prestige, but was limited in upward mobility.
This all changed after the Restoration, when the existing social hierarchy was effectively abolished. Influential former samurai still held power and influence, but trade and industry made social mobility far more fluid. Someone like Kinokuniya no longer had to rely on samurai patronage; he could influence Japan's trajectory himself.