Art on Tuesday: Ashida

This ukiyo-e by Utagawa Hiroshige I (1797-1958) shows ‘Ashida’ from his series ‘The Sixty-Nine Stations of the Kisokaidô’ (木曾街道六拾九次之内 あし田). The woodblock-print was made about 1835-38. The depicted road was one of the main five routes that connected Edo (today’s Tôkyô) with the old capital Kyôto. The Kisaidô (木曾街), is also known as Nakasendô (中山道) which means ‘Central Mountain Route’. One of the sixty-nine stations is Ashida (芦田), the post town was built in 1601. It is located at Teteshina in Nagano Prefecture.

Art on Tuesday: Nihonbashi

One Hundred Famous Views of Edo 名所江戸百景 by Utagawa Hiroshige 歌川 広重 (1797-1858). This is the first picture of his well-known landscape series. The title of the ukiyo-e 日本橋雪晴 means clearing after snow. It shows a scene in early spring at the Nihonbashi-bridge at the Nihonbashi-river. It is located in the Chuo-district in Tokyo. The wooden bridge, built in 1603, shown in this picture does not exist any longer. Today there is a stone bridge completed in 1911 nearby the Nihonbashi subway station. In the front on the right side of the river the Edo-era fish market is located and in the back you see the flat houses of the Edo castle and Mount Fuji.

Utagawa Hiroshige also chooses the Nihonbashi bridge for the first picture of his series The Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido Road 東海道五十三次 Tōkaidō gojūsan tsugi no uchi. (1833-34). This ukiyo-e shows the starting point of his first journey along the Tokaido, it is called Morning Scene (asa no kei) 朝之景. The Tokaido was the main route from Edo to Kyoto. The artist was travelling with an official delegation and depicted main stations along the route. 

A variation of the same bridge with the title of The Daimyō Procession is Setting Out  gyōretsu furidashi, 行列振出.

Art on Tuesday: Canary and Peony


This beautiful ukiyo-e  was made by Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾 北斎) in 1834. It is showing a flying canary in between peonies. The rich blue background and the pastel flowers are showing an interesting effect.

Peonies are growing in Asia, Western North America and Southern Europe. They are called 恵比須草 (ebisugusa, paeonia lactiflora) in Japanese. The roots of peonies are used as traditional medicine in China. Therefore they are regarded as a traditional floral symbol of wealth and nobility, also for good luck. Canaries 金糸雀 (kanaria) are a symbol of freshness and healing energies.

Art on Tuesday: Moon Pine

This ukiyo-e was painted by Utagawa Hiroshige 歌川広重 (1797-1858). It is part of his “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo” showing the so-called moon pine  上野山内月のまつ.  It is named moon pine because people liked to watch the moon through the loop of the tree from different angles. Moon watching was popular in these days and maybe it is still today.

Another ukiyo-e of the same series is showing the pine tree from a different perspective: here you can see it standing in front of the Kiyomizu Hall beside the Shinobazu Pond in Ueno/Tokyo and can be viewed even today. The picture is called Kiyomizu-do and Shinobazu Pond at Ueno.