ANDO HIROSHIGE
BASIL STEWART: A GUIDE TO JAPANESE PRINTS


CHAPTER 11: THE STATIONS OF THE TOKAIDO (continued)

In addition to the foregoing Tokaido series, generally known for purposes of distinction as the Great Tokaido, Hiroshige issued two other oblong sets, one through the publisher Yetatsu (or Yesaki), about 1840, somewhat smaller than the first series, and the other through the publisher Marusei, during the prohibition period (1842-1853), as each plate carries two censors' seals.

This Marusei edition is also called the Reisho series, because the title, Tokaido, on a red label, is written in reisho or formal script (i.e. in capitals); while the Yetatsu edition is also known as the Gyosho series, the title, also on a label, being written in gyosho, or informal script.

In the Marusei set the title and number of the plate is on the label, the station name and censors' seals outside it; also the script Fifty-three Stations. Hiroshige's signature occurs sometimes on a red label (as in Plates 13 and 14), at other times without it; the publisher's mark is on the margin, but does not occur on all the plates.

The Yetatsu set has the title Tokaido, Fifty-three Stations on a red label and the place-name alongside.

Both these sets are rare, the Marusei one particularly so, owing to the fact that all the blocks for it were destroyed by fire when only a few impressions had been taken from them. Considered as a whole, this set is the best after the Hoyeido, or Great Tokaido series.

A later edition of the Yetatsu issue was published by Yamada-ya, in which the blocks for stations Nihon-bashi, Totsuka, Fukuroi, and Goyu were re-drawn; these plates carry Yamada-ya's stamp in black. In the Yetatsu edition, the publisher's mark (reproduced in Appendix) occurs sometimes in the margin, sometimes on the face of the print.

Owing to the rarity of these two oblong series, particularly of the Marusei issue, we cannot give a description of all the plates in each, as only an occasional print from them has come under observation; neither is such description necessary, as for this very reason (their rarity) the average collector will be unlikely to acquire but a few of the plates, if any.

Also, considered as a whole, they do not constitute a work of any particular importance, though certain of the plates are amongst Hiroshige's best work in this form; we give sufficient particulars to identify any of the views which may come under the reader's observation.

 

From the MARUSEI edition the following plates are notable :

No. 13. Numazu. A great white-crested Fuji, its sides streaked with white, towers up, on the left, above a long line of dark foothills, into a yellow sunset sky, changing to black at the top. At the base of the hills lie bands of mist over a wide plain across which moves a man leading a horse; in a grove of trees on the right are seen the towers of a castle.

No. 14. Hara. A huge grey-white Fuji fills the whole of the background, towering up into a blue sky above the foothills and plain in the foreground.

No. 15. Yoshiwara. Along a road bordered with trees pass a group of travellers, a woman on horseback in front, led by a coolie, and another woman walking alongside; in the distance rises the white mass of Fuji streaked with grey.

No. 21. Mariko. A very fine snow scene. Snow falling from a dark sky over a wide valley, buried deep in its white mantle.

No. 23. Fuji-yeda. Rain scene. Under a downpour of rain from a black sky, three travellers on foot and another on horseback plod along the road, at either side of which grow two great trees; rice-fields on either side of the road and in the foreground a stook of straw.

No. 30. Hamamatsu. A choppy sea breaks into foam on the shore close under two pine trees, and stretches away to a dark horizon betokening storm. In foreground three people pass along the shore, one half-hidden by a large basket he is carrying. One of the masterpieces of the set in the expression of approaching storm. (See Plate 10, Illustration 4, page 84.)

No. 48. Seki. Another masterpiece. Against a black wintry sky is outlined a rounded hill, pure white under its mantle of snow; in foreground runs the road uphill, by a torii, under which porters and a traveller are passing; by the side a shrine, overlooked by a tree, on the top of a mound. Over the whole scene falls the silent snow.

 

From the YETATSU issue we take the following :

No. 14. Hara. A great grey Fuji towers up over the river and wide plain.

No. 19. Ejiri. A fine snow scene. In the left foreground passes the road, bordered on one side by snow-laden trees, to the village behind; along it pass porters and wayfarers. From the edge of the road stretch flat fields towards the horizon, glowing with a red sunset.

No. 29. Mitsuke. Two ferry-boats pass one another in mid-stream; wooded shore beyond, and in the background a range of hills is seen. On the prow of one boat appears the publisher's mark.

No. 45. Ishiya-kushi. Another fine snow scene. Three travellers, one on a pack-horse, make their way through the deep snow down a steep slope, at the foot of which lies the village, and meeting another wayfarer coming up. On their left grows a clump of trees overhanging the road; snow falls steadily from a grey sky, blackest at the top and again on the horizon, thus throwing the white foreground into greater contrast.

No. 50. Tsuchi-yama. Under heavy rain the head of a daimyo's procession is seen fording a stream running between steep green banks; from the right bank project the branches of a tree. Against the grey sky is silhouetted a still darker mountain; in the background stretches the road leading to the ford, and three figures approaching along it.

This plate is also found without the rain-block.

Owing to the great popularity of Tokaido views, they were repeated in various editions, in different forms, in sets rather smaller than the regulation full-size plate, in half-plate, or as a miniature set in quarter-plate, that is four views to a block. All these, however, are uncommon, particularly the last-named.

Two half-plate series were issued, one by the publisher Sanoki and the other by Tsuta-ya.

In order to obtain an even number of full-size blocks for printing from, the former series is increased to fifty-six plates, an extra view being allotted to Kyoto, while the Tsuta-ya set is reduced to fifty-four by putting stations 24 and 25, Shimada and Kanaya, on opposite banks of the Oi River, into one view.

A miniature series of four-on-a-block size was issued by the publisher Arita-ya, and consists of fifty-six views, that is fourteen to a block, with a second view allotted to Kyoto.

 

In 1855, when Hiroshige had virtually abandoned the oblong form of print for the upright, which was now his favourite form of composition, he issued a Tokaido series, his first and only attempt of this subject in this shape, with the publisher Koyeido; each plate dated Hare 7 = 7th month, 1855. Like almost all Hiroshige's upright series, late issues and poor impressions of this Tokaido set are numerous, while those of fine quality are rare. Many of the designs are excellent, and when early, impressions from the first edition are amongst the best of his work at this period. The series is notable for the great number of river and sea-views contained in it. (See Note, page 97.[1])

As pointed out in a previous chapter, it is not unlikely that this Tokaido set was largely the work of Hiroshige II working under his master's instructions, who signed the drawing when completed. Late issues may be identified by the harsh colours, particularly in the use of aniline red and a very offensive purple.

 

Title : Go-ju-san Tsugi Meisho Zuye.

As this series, next to the Great Tokaido set, is the one most likely to come under the observation of the average collector, we select the following plates from it as being amongst the best. Only first edition copies should, of course, be collected; a plate here described as good might, in a late impression, be worthless.

Plate 4. Kanagawa. Moonlight scene over Yedo Bay. A man and two women on the balcony of a tea-house on the cliff, admiring the view. Junks at anchor and others sailing along the coast. Dark, grey-blue sky on horizon, deep blue at top. Sea tinted in blue in fore and background, white in centre.

Printed almost entirely in different shades of grey and blue, this is one of the best plates in the set. (See Plate11.)

Plate 6. Totsuka. In foreground peasants planting out rice in a hollow surrounded by yellow and green slopes, beyond which runs a grey road lined with tall firs and pines. Through them appears the grey mass of Fuji in the distance, its peak white with snow, white clouds floating round its base, rising up into a brownish-tinted sky, graded to white and then deep blue above. To the left of Fuji appears another round-topped hill through white mists. A very fine plate, beautifully coloured. (See Plate 11.)

Plate 8. Hiratsuka. Beyond a wide river, flowing past low banks, rises a dark green hill above the low-lying mist; towering above it, on the left, rises a grey Fuji, its peak white with snow, into an orange-tinted sky, changing to deep blue above. Ferry-boats crossing the river to a village on further bank at the edge of a clump of trees; flat sandy shore in foreground and three small pines.

Plate 11. Hakonè. Porters preceded by torch-bearers mounting a steep road which overlooks the river below, and great grey hills, shaded to deep black at the summit, rising up from the river-bed into a grey sky, changing to black above. Three large pines grow at the extreme edge of the road, overhanging the river.

The deepening shadows of nightfall are very well indicated in this view.

Plate 12. Mishima. Street scene at nightfall. A row of shops and tea-houses seen in perspective on the right before a large torii, by the side of which grows a fir tree. Late reprints of this view are in existence in which a priest and three figures in semi-European dress have been added in the foreground, close to the torii. (Reproduced in Captain Osborn's book.)

Plate 13. Numazu. Snow scene : one of the two best plates in the set. In foreground two figures are crossing a bridge over a blue stream, to a hut on the further bank; another bridge beyond. In background the peak of Fuji rises up into a blue sky, over a nearer range of hills outlined against a pale yellow sky. The snow should be tinted with grey to heighten the effect in the best impressions.

Plate 14. Hara. A great grey Fuji rises above the foothills against a pale rosy sky.

Plate 15. Yoshiwara. Against a blue sky, a huge grey Fuji, with white cap, streaked with grey, rises above white clouds and mist lying over the marshes; above the reeds appear the yellow roofs of six huts and two clumps of trees. Men fishing in the river in the foreground; across the view, with the mountain as a background, a flight of chidori rise up from the marshes.

Plate 16. Kambara. View from high ground leading steeply down to the river-bed, to a round-topped green hill on further shore, with white mist lying at its base. Above a dip on the right appears the white cone of Fuji against a red sky. In foreground, at each side of the road, two booths and people sitting in them; others climbing up the steep slope from the sandy river-bed below. The foreground should be coloured yellow, overprinted with black at the foot of the picture.

Plate 17. Yui. A precipitous green cliff faces the sea; in the background rises Fuji above dark foothills against a glowing sunset sky.

Plate 19. Ejiri. View of a wide bend of the Okitsu River, and a junk in full sail in the foreground; two anchored in mid-stream at the angle of the bend, and others sailing in the distance. In the background rises the mass of Fuji, its slopes and base wreathed in brilliant sunset clouds. Two small boats and two fishing nets on the sandy shore in close foreground.

Plate 22. Okabe. A fine plate, printed in various shades of grey. View of the road from above passing through a deep cutting in the rock, with a great mountain beyond in front rising above blue and white mist. At a corner of the road, on left, a small straw-thatched booth. A pilgrim passes along the road carrying on his back a tengu mask; in front of him a priest and other wayfarers.

Plate 23. Fuji-yeda. A winding stream with willows and other trees growing at the water's edge; people fording the river, some on the backs of coolies, and a woman in a kago.

Plate 25. Kanaya. View of the wide bed of the Oi River and its sand-banks from high ground, and people making their way across. In the distance rises the white cone of Fuji above the dark foothills in a crimson sky, changing to deep blue above. In the foreground a traveller on a packhorse led by a coolie, and others coming up from the village below.

Plate 27. Kakegawa. On the left the river runs by high, steep cliffs crowned with trees; in the background a high hill, grey, graded to black at the top. In the foreground another bend of the river, flowing by a grassy mound on which a cluster of trees is growing; people fording the stream.

Plate 28. Fukuroi. The road stretching across flat green fields in which peasants are working transplanting rice. In the centre grows a large fir by the roadside, and along the road boys are flying kites.

A somewhat uninteresting plate, but the rather featureless design is retrieved by good colour and careful graduation of the sky in early impressions, giving a fine atmospheric effect. The sky should be a deep rosy red on the horizon, well graduated into blue, and deep blue above; the fields should be a light shade of blue-green, and the trees a dark, deep green.

No. 30. Hamamatsu. View of the sea-beach with three ancient, gnarled and twisted pines growing close to the water's edge, one of them being admired by a nobleman and his attendants; beyond, three junks sailing close in-shore, and a dark coast-line studded with trees stretching away in the distance.

No. 31. Maisaka. A great headland runs out into a blue sea, against a crimson sunset sky; four junks with sails set in foreground, and in the lower corner a row of posts. A fine sea-view; practically the same as the view in the oblong issue (Hoyeido) adapted to the upright form.

No. 35. Yoshida. In foreground part of the bridge over the Toyo River, and two peasants making obeisance as a daimyo's procession passes. Beyond rise the towers of the castle above white mists, and the shore lined with trees; in the background rises a grey mountain; laden barges on the river.

No. 36. Goyu. Scene by the river bank at edge of which grow willows, the stream winding from fore to background. Behind rise black hills, beyond which is seen a grey Fuji, its peak streaked with snow, rising into a blue sky from above white mists.

No. 38. Fujikawa. The masterpiece of the series; a famous snow scene. Travellers entering the village down a steep slope, at the foot of which stretch the houses overlooking the river. In the background a range of snow-covered mountains.

Found in two states, the sky being much darker in one than in the other. Our illustration at Plate 1 1 is from a copy in the former state; at Plate 54 in Mr. Ficke's Chats on Japanese Prints is shown the state with the less dense sky. Which is the best is a matter of personal taste; the writer prefers the darker sky as thus affording greater contrast.

No. 39. Okazaki. View from underneath the bridge over the Yahagi River, across which a daimyo's procession is passing. On further bank appear the castle towers rising above the trees; lumber-rafts on the river, and close in-shore a man washing a horse.

No. 40. Chiryu. People resting under an old pine tree by the edge of the road running across flat fields; in foreground another dwarfed pine tree overhangs a lake or pond. Range of hills in distance against a crimson sunset sky changing to blue above. Another plate which owes its effectiveness to the colour-scheme and atmospheric effect rather than to the design. (Reproduced at Plate 5 in the author's On Collecting Japanese ColourPrints, 1917.)

No. 41. Narumi. View of the main street through the village with shops selling dyed cloth, a product of the locality; on the left by a grassy mound, close to a pine tree, a high wooden staging from which are hung strips of red and blue-patterned cloth to dry. A fine plate when well printed, the golden-hued sky making an effective background.

No. 42. Miya. A group of seven people standing near a large red-brown torii built on the quay-side overlooking the harbour, which is protected by a spit of land running out from either side; junks sailing in and others at anchor by the quay-side. Deep indigo sky on the horizon betokening nightfall, graded to white and then dark blue at the top. One of the best plates. (See plate 11.)

No. 47. Kameyama. Rain scene. From a black and yellow sky streaked with flashes of red lightning which are reflected in the wet road, a heavy rain pours down on four travellers. On the left a green mound with three large and other smaller trees growing from it; further along, on the right, a line of trees bordering the road which leads up to the entrance of Kameyama Castle.

The road in the close foreground should be a deep grey, almost dead black, shaded off to a lighter tint.

No. 48. Seki. At the top of a flight of steps leading down to the valley below, and overlooked by a green hill on which grow two trees, stands a torii flanked by lanterns on either side; in front of it passes a broad road along which approaches a traveller in a kago. Behind him stand buildings under the shelter of a large tree overlooking the valley and hill opposite; in the background rising out of a white mist is a deep blue mountain, printed from colour-block only, towering into a paler blue sky. A very fine plate when well printed, with beautiful mist effect. Flight of birds above mountain top.

In late issues the mountain is a pale blue, the same colour as the sky, which is streaked with white clouds, and below the white mist lying across the side of the mountain is a streak of raucous purple mist, which ruins the whole effect.

No. 51. Minakuchi. The road, along which two faggot-gatherers and other wayfarers are passing, runs past a grove of maple trees, brown with autumn tints; behind are high green hills, and still higher mountains beyond.

 

Hiroshige's success with his Tokaido views naturally led other artists to copy him, particularly during the Prohibition period, when prints of actors and courtesans were forbidden by law.

Kuniyoshi contributed a series of Tokaido views, full size, oblong, complete in twelve plates, which place him at least on a level with, and, in the estimation of some collectors, above Hiroshige in the domain of landscape design. One view from this series (c. 1840), which is rare, is here illustrated at Plate 12, representing stations Akasaka (37), Fujikawa (38), Okazaki (39), Chiryu (40), and, on the near side of the river, Narumi (41). On the scaffolding on the right are bung strips of dyed cloth, a product for which the locality was noted.

This series by Kuniyoshi gives an excellent idea of the relative position of the stations to one another. Across the water we see the long bridge at Okazaki, over the Yahagi River, and its fifteenth-century castle, which form the subject for Hiroshige's view of this station (i.e. Okazaki).

The full title of this series is Tokaido Go-ju-san Yeki; Go-shuku Meisho (Fifty-three Tokaido Stations; Views of Five Stations).

In some plates, however, only four stations are shown, when the subHeader is altered accordingly. One such is reproduced at Plate 12 in our first edition (1920). Each print of the series is signed in the margin (not reproduced in illustration) Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi, Shuku-zu (sketches by contract); while over the signature are the publishers' marks of Tsuta-ya and Tsuru-ya, thus showing the series to have been a joint production.

It was left, however, to Kunisada to flatter Hiroshige to the extent of copying his early Tokaido series in a half-block set, in many views practically line for line. The majority are signed Kochoro Kunisada; others To order, Kunisada, as if in apology for plagiarizing the work of his fellow-artist, and to make it appear his publisher, Sanoki, was really responsible.

Stations 1 (Nihon Bashi) and 3 (Kawasaki) are signed in full To order, Kochoro Kunisada; about four or five views are signed Gototei Kunisada.

In the foreground of each view is a large figure of a woman, separated from the landscape view by a conventional cloud effect. This series is very uncommon; the writer has only once found a complete set of fifty-six views mentioned [2], and only twenty-seven of the set figured in the Happer collection, but being virtually only a plagiarism of the work of another artist, it is not particularly important. Two views from it, Stations Kakegawa and Otsu, are here illustrated at Plate 12 for purposes of identification of the series; in the view of Otsu, showing the shop where Otsu pictures were sold, Kunisada has followed his own design, it being quite different to Hiroshige's, which is shown at Plate 10, page 84.

In the complete set two views are allotted to Kyoto, to make an even number (56) of plates.

Plates 1 to 41 follow, mostly with but slight variation of detail, Hiroshige's first Tokaido views, but from Plate 42 onwards Kunisada appears to have made his own designs, as they differ entirely from Hiroshige's, though for No. 42, Miya, he seems to have taken the latter's station 43, Kuwana, for his model, as in the foreground are two large junks, like Hiroshige's Kuwana view.

This apparent inversion is due to the fact that Miya (Station 42) and Kuwana (Station 43) lie on opposite sides of Kuwana Bay, the distance across being seven ri (a ri = about 21 miles), hence the name The Seven Ri Ferry, the coast-road round the bay being three or four times the distance by water.

Kunisada, therefore, has shown one end of the ferry and Hiroshige the other.

All the remaining stations by Kunisada are entirely different.

As if in compliment to this attention on the part of Kunisada, Hiroshige designed a vertical series, entitled Tokaido Go-ju-san Tsugi Zuye (Exact Views of the Fifty-three Tokaido Stations), in which oblong landscape views occupy the upper third of the sheet, while the lower part is taken up with large figures, drawn after the style of Kunisada.

Again, in another, and very uncommon series, we find these two artists in collaboration, a series entitled So-hitsu Go-ju-san Tsugi (Fifty-three Stations by Two Brushes), and dated between the years 1854 and 1857, in which the upper part consists of a Tokaido view by Hiroshige, and the lower part large figures, illustrative of legends, by Kunisada, over the signature of Toyokuni. Owing to the size of the figures they encroach somewhat upon the landscape above.

Hokusai has designed a small quarter-block series of the Tokaido stations, showing people engaged at various occupations, sometimes an industry for which the particular place is renowned; for example, making sheets of seaweed by hand at Shinagawa on the same principle as papermaking, or the cultivation of silkworms, as at Kusatsu.

They are found in two issues, either of which are very uncommon, particularly the first, which may be distinguished by having a short poem or verse inscribed on each view above the picture, which is removed in the later issue.

Each view is signed Gwakio Yin Hokusai, meaning Hokusai Mad on Drawing.


[1] Note to page 90. - Hiroshige's upright Tokaido series. The publisher of this series is Tsutaya Kichizo, the same as Koyeido, publisher of Sugakudo's Birds and Flowers series (vide page 57), and must be distinguished from the other Tsutaya, known as Juzaburo. Owing to the similarity of their seals (reproduced in Appendix IV) Kichizo is almost invariably confused with Juzaburo, and Hiroshige's prints so marked attributed to the latter publisher in error.

[2] Orange and Thornicraft sale, March, 1912.