Artist: Utagawa Hiroshige 歌川広重 (1797 – 1859)

Period: Edo (1615 – 1868)

Editor: Tenmei Rōjin

Publisher: Unknown

Date: 1855 (Ansei 2)

Medium: Full color, woodblock

Hiroshige grew up in a minor samurai family and  was bestowed with the artistic name Hiroshige after only a year apprenticing with the celebrated Utagawa Toyohiro. Hiroshige is famous for his noteworthy series of woodblock prints,The 53 Stations of the Tokaido, among others. In this famous set of sheet prints, Hiroshige illustrated the journey along the Tokaido road, the highway connecting Edo (modern Tokyo) to Kyoto, the imperial capital. Hiroshige’s work became very popular in later nineteenth-century Europe and beyond, and was a source of visual inspiration for the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, including Toulouse-Lautrec and Van Gogh. Van Gogh, for example, copied Hiroshige’s two compositions from Hiroshige’s 100 Famous Views of Edo in oil paintings.

The illustrations capture people as professionals, and everyday people doing activities such as sake wine sellers delivering wine, children playing with kites, horses taking travelers across a waterway, and ladies catching fireflies. These are paired with poems selected by various poetry groups.

Other Copies

Other copies are found in collections at UC Berkeley, Williams College, and the Metropolitan Museum

Selected Reading

Andō, Hiroshige, and Gian Carlo Calza. Hiroshige: The Master of Nature. Skira, 2009.


Posted by Kemuel Benyehudah