Shōsai Ikkei, Thirty-six Amusing Views of Famous Places in Tokyo: Kyobashi Bridge, 1872

Shōsai Ikkei (identity unknown)

Thirty-six Amusing Views of Famous Places in Tokyo: Kyobashi Bridge, 1872

Polychrome woodblock printed; ink and color on paper

Utagawa Hiroshige, Bamboo Quay by Kyōbashi Bridge, c. 1858

Gift of Tom Musco

In the series Thirty-six Amusing Views of Famous Places in Tokyo, Shōsai Ikkei parodies Utagawa Hiroshige’s famous series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, transforming the stately, iconic landmarks of the earlier artist’s work into farcical vignettes. Here, Ikkei chooses the Kyobashi Bridge, one of the famous bridges of Edo, and a site also depicted by Hiroshige. In Ikkei’s print, though, the landmark is hardly visible behind the absurd scene of a carriage accident that has caused passengers to tumble onto the ground with grimacing faces and limbs akimbo.

Ikkei appears to be responding to the chaos surrounding the “opening” of Japan to the West and the rapid modernization that ensued at the beginning of the Meiji period. It is, after all, a western-style carriage that has lost its wheel, leading to the unfortunate and undignified scene. Whereas Hiroshige sought to immortalize the sites of the past, Ikkei pokes fun at a new Japan where people wear bowler hats and ride in carriages over the famous bridges of past dynasties. Modernization, it seems, is moving too quickly for Japan to keep its feet.



Solomon, Jonathan. “Bridging Edo and Meiji: Shōsai Ikkei’s Comic Views of Early Tokyo.” Impressions 21(1999): 42-53.




Posted on

November 30, 2018