Art on Tuesday: Plum Garden

This woodblock print shows the ‘Plum Garden in Kamata’ 蒲田の梅園 (Kamata no Umezono) otherwise called ‘Umeyashiki Park’ in Kamata. It is designed by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) as part of the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo in 1857 (picture no. 27, spring).
The ukiyo-e shows a wide plum garden in the south of Ômori. You see several plum trees in blooming. Some tea houses are surrounded by visitors. On the right there is a palanquin with a blue cushion used for travelling.

Art on Tuesday: Sumida River

woodblock print Sumida River at the Massaki district by Utagawa Hiroshige

Utagawa Hiroshige 歌川 広重 (1797-1858) made this woodblock print as part of his series: ‘One Hundred Famous Views of Edo’ (名所江戸百景 Meisho Edo Hyakkei). It is picture No. 35.

You see a cherry tree trunk on the right side in full bloom with many cherry blossoms hanging at the top. The Sujin Shrine is located in the valley on the right in a little forest. The Sumida River at the Massaki district is in the center and in the background you see the famous Mount Tsukuba (筑波山). The mountain’s double peak consists of the so called female-body-mountain (女体山) and the male-body-mountain (男体山). Some of the oldest legends are related to them.

Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan 勤労感謝の日

Today is Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan 勤労感謝の日 (kinrō kansha no hi). The national holiday was established in 1948. Each year on November 23rd this day is dedicated for celebration and honoring work and production, also to give thanks to one another.

It is traditionally connected with the Niiname-sai Festival of Food 新嘗祭 which is a harvest festival based on Shintô rituals. On this day the tennô is offering the newly harvested rice to the kami in order to pray for a good harvest in the following year. He is eating the first rice together with the kami in a ceremony held in the Imperial Household.

The picture above is an ukiyo-e of Hiroshige (1797-1858). A Path through Rice Fields at Ōmori on the Tōkaidō Road 東海道大森縄手.

Art on Tuesday: Tama River

‘Autumn Moon on the Tama River’ 多摩川秋月 is part of Utagawa Hiroshige’s series ‘Eight Views in the Environs of Edo’ 江戸近郊八景之内 made around 1837/38. It depicts the  beautiful atmosphere of early autumn.

The Tama River flows through Tokyo and is the border of Kanagawa. A main river of Japan with a lenght of ca. 138 km. The river is very popular among inhabitants of the area and tourists because of the beauty of the landscape. Many people enjoy a walk or a picnic at the shore.

Katsushika Hokusai  shows the Tama River in his series the ‘Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji’ (富嶽三十六景 Fugaku Sanjūrokkei). The title is called ‘Tama River in Musashi Province’ 武州玉川 painted in 1830 to 1832.

 

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.