print

A daimyō procession begins to cross the Ōi River. During the Edo period the government restricted the number of permanent bridges over major rivers, as a means of preventing easy access to Edo by enemy forces. Local porters – the figures in loincloths here – could be hired to carry people and luggage through the water. This print has a pronounced bird’s eye view, reminiscent of the printed travel guidebooks to which Hiroshige looked for inspiration.

Details

  • Catalogue text

    A daimyō procession begins to cross the Ōi River near Shimada (in modern Shizuoka Prefecture). During the Edo period the government restricted the number of permanent bridges over major rivers, as a means of preventing easy access to Edo by enemy forces. Local porters – the figures seen here wearing nothing but loincloths – could be hired to carry people and luggage through the water. There were fixed prices for the different forms of transport, ranging from expensive palanquins to ladder-like platforms (visible here to the right of the group) and simple shoulder rides. The Ōi River was wide and rapid, and crossings were only possible in dry weather. When heavy rain made rivers impassable, travellers were obliged to wait at a nearby inn. The palette of yellows and browns in this print gives the impression of arid summer weather, and blue bokashi gradation is effectively used to express the fast-flowing water. The large, rock-filled cages of stones shown on the right were used in case of flooding.
    This print, one of four in the Tōkaidō series where the sky is not shown, has a pronounced bird’s eye view, reminiscent of the gazetteers to which Hiroshige looked for inspiration. The tiny size of the figures emphasizes the vast scale of the river, which is only partly shown in this design. Despite the high vantage point, Hiroshige has painstakingly included every detail of the daimyō procession.

    In: Pollard, Clare, Mitsuko Ito Watanabe, Landscape, Cityscape: Hiroshige Woodblock Prints in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2014)

Glossary of terms

daimyō

Further reading

Pollard, Clare, Mitsuko Ito Watanabe, Landscape, Cityscape: Hiroshige Woodblock Prints in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2014), no. 6, p. 48, illus. p. 49

Reference URL

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