THE HUNDRED FAMOUS VIEWS OF YEDO
In this enormous series of 119 prints (118 views and title-page) Hiroshige displays his powers at his best and also at his worst, if, that is to say, the inferior plates are really his handiwork and not that of his pupil called in to assist.
Hiroshige, indeed, himself considered the set his masterpiece and so inscribed the title-page, but many of the views in it, such as the inane Boatman with the Hairy Legs and the Rear View of a Horse, which almost blots out the whole picture, like an equally inane print in his
Each print has the date-seal, the aratame seal, and the publisher's seal (Uwo-yei) in the margin, the dates varying from 1856 to 1858.
The plate numbers are those given in the index on the title-page, published on completion of the series, and it will be noticed that the order does not follow the date at which the blocks were engraved, the date-seal being cut in the block and not stamped on the print afterwards. The reason of this apparent irregularity between the plate numbers and the date is that, when the series was finally completed, it was arranged according to the seasons, Plates 1 to 42 representing spring; 43 to 72, summer; 73 to 98, autumn; and 99 to 118, winter.
Owing to the margins of some copies which have come under observation being cut, we have not been able to give the date thereon in every instance.
Owing to the enormous demand for these views they were reprinted in subsequent editions many times over, and it is copies from these late, crudely printed editions that are so abundant at the present day, and against which the collector should be warned.
Early copies may be distinguished by the good printing, in which the colours are carefully graduated and the different tints in the sky melt imperceptibly one into the other. In strongly-printed impressions the grain of the wood-block will be clearly seen.
Late issues also often show an entirely different, and frequently raucous, colour-scheme.
As the author has already pointed out, the date-seal on each print is no guide, by itself, as to what edition a print belongs. One must judge by the quality of the printing and of the colours employed.
No. 1. Nihon-bashi,
Snowy Morning at Nihon Bridge. A very good
snow-scene when well printed. View of the river and the Nihon Bridge,
towards which three barges are being rowed; other boats moored in mid-stream,
and alongside the bank, lined with fish shops. Warehouses on opposite
bank upon which lie pink and red mists; through the mist appears Yedo
Castle in the background, with Fuji on the left rising above the foothills,
white with freshly fallen snow. Blue sky above. (Dated Dragon 5 = 1856.)
Note. - Plate No. 1 is incorrectly given in the B.M. catalogue owing to there being two views of Nihon-bashi, the other being entitled Nihon Bashi, Yedo Bashi (an uninteresting plate), which is properly No. 43 of the series, forming the first of the summer views.
No. 2. Kasumi-ga-seki,
The Kasumi Guard-house. View from the summit of the hill looking
out to the bay of Yedo, across the city roofs below, and a procession
coming into view up the slope. On the right stands the guard-house, a
Crimson sky on horizon, changing to blue above. Trees should be strongly printed, and shaded to a darker green at their edge.
No. 3. Yamashita
cho, Hibiya no Sakurada,
Outside Hibeya Gate, Yamashita Street,
Sakurada District. View of the moat outside Yedo Castle, the wall
of which appears on the right; ducks on the water, kites flying, and
two battledores projecting into the picture from either side, that on
the left partly hidden by a young pine. Fuji in the distance above the
roofs of the city. (Dated Snake 12 = 1857.)
No. 4. Yeitai
Yeitai Bridge and Tsukuda Island.
Fishing boats with flares seen just beyond a pier of the bridge; on the
right a cluster of junks at anchor under a black sky with a half-moon
and stars shining. (Dated Snake 2 = 1857.)
Found in two states, one with the dark sky brought down to the horizon, and in the other stopped just above it (this state illustrated in Happer Catalogue); in late issues the stars are omitted.
No. 5. Ryogoku
The Eko-in Temple, Ryogoku, by the Wrestling
Ground. Fuji under a mantle of snow seen across the Sumida River,
down which two junks are sailing, and in the left foreground a high wooden
tower with white paper flags hung out to denote a wrestling match is in
progress. Dated 5th month, 1857.
No. 6. Hatsune
no Baba, Bakuro Cho,
First Race-Course, Horse-dealer's Street.
Strips of blue and brown cloth hung out between willow trees to dry, and
in the background a fire-outlook tower. Dated 9th month, 1857. One of
the best plates of the series when well printed, the sunset sky producing
a beautiful atmospheric effect. (Illustrated at Plate 21 in our quarto
No. 8. Suruga
Suruga Street. Street scene in perspective looking
straight down towards Fuji in the distance, whose cone rises above brightly
tinted mists lying over the roofs, right across the view; many groups
of people walking about. (Date cut.)
No. 9. Yatsukoji,
Broad Avenue, Yatsukoji. Bird's eye view
of the broad space outside the Shogun's Palace, with a daimyo's
procession in foreground. (Dated Snake 11 = 1857.)
Kanda, Miojin Shrine.
Three Temple attendants, a woman and two men, one carrying a water-bucket,
standing under a trellis on a high terrace looking out over the roofs
of the city below at the reddening sky of dawn. In foreground the trunk
of a tall cryptomeria and two other trees partly seen on either side.
The foreground should be well graded from green in front to yellow in
centre and then grey under the trellis. (Dated Snake 9 = 1857.)
Nippori Temple Garden.
Two flowering weeping cherry trees in foreground at edge of wide path
(grey-green), and people promenading. On further side green slopes, trees,
and clipped shrubs, one on the right cut like a boat in full sail. A good
plate when well printed. (Dated Snake 2 =1857).
Also found with yellow path in foreground.
Suwano dai, Nippori.
People seated on low benches, taking refreshment, on a high terrace by
two tall cryptomerias and cherry trees, and admiring the view across a
wide plain to Mount Tsukuba in the distance. At foot of the terrace a
cluster of houses surrounded with blossoming cherry trees, and people
mounting up from them to the terrace. Crimson sky on horizon, purple at
top. (Date cut.)
Sendagi, Dango-saka hana,
at Dangosaka, Sendagi. In foreground people sitting out by the edge
of a lake under blossoming cherry trees, over which lies a cloud edged
with pink and green. Behind, steps lead up to a tea-house set amongst
trees on a hill overlooking the lake. (Dated Dragon 5 = 1856.)
View from Asukayama.
People picnicking under pine and cherry trees on a grassy terrace, overlooking
the wide plain of Hitachi below to Mount Tsukuba in the distance rising
above purple mists. A fine plate when well printed. (Dragon 5 = 1856.)
Oji, Inari no Jinga,
Inari Shrine, Oji. Under the shadow of
tall cryptomerias stands a corner of the temple on a terrace commanding
a fine view across the wide plain to Mount Tsukuba in the distance. People
mounting to the terrace up steps at foot of which stands a torii.
Crimson sky on horizon, changing to blue at top. (Date cut.)
Otonashi River and
Waterfall. Three men bathing in the fall (white), and others in
the river itself (blue); steep green banks either side on which grow
cherry trees in blossom and other trees. (Date cut.)
Kawaguchi no Watashi,
Ferry at Kawaguchi,
and Zenkoji Temple. Three lumber-rafts on river, and ferry-boat on right
in mid-stream. On further bank a blue and red temple in a dark grove of
trees; pine and willow overhang the water on near bank. (Snake 2 =1857.)
In early impressions there appears a band of dark blue across the middle of the river.
Atago Hill, Shiba.
messenger to Bishamon coming up the steps of the temple.
He carries a huge rice-ladle in one hand and a pestle in the other; on
his head he wears a basket and other fanciful decorations, fern leaves,
etc. In the distance, across the roofs of the city below, a view of Shinagawa
Bay, and sails on it.
Above Hiroshige's signature, on a yellow label, is written
day, first month, Bishamon's Messenger, and in the top left-hand
corner, the date Ansei 4 (= 1857), which verifies the seal-date in the
upper margin, Snake 8 (= 8th month, 1857).
This print is solely interesting from the evidence it gives of the correctness of the seal-dates on other prints, but as a picture it is not a success, the drawing being crude and the colours invariably harsh and staring in any copies which have come under observation.
Chiyoga Pond, Meguro.
Chiyoga pond and a cascade flowing into it down a steep slope on which
grow cherry trees in blossom, and bands of mist lying over them. Two girls
standing at the foot of the fall admiring it. (Dated Dragon 7 =1856.)
Notable for the reflection of the trees in the pond, one of the few known examples.
Meguro, Shin Fuji,
The 'New' (or Imitation)
Fuji, Meguro. An artificial mound formed to resemble the real Fuji
which is seen in the distance, and people ascending it up a zigzag path
to view the latter. (Date cut.)
Megura, Moto Fuji,
The 'Original' Fuji from Meguro, seen in
the distance, on the left, from an artificial mound (see preceding plate),
half-way up which are two people; out of its side grows a spreading pine
tree, and at the foot, under blossoming fruit trees, are people seated
on low benches admiring the view. (Date cut.)
Though these two plates are hardly worth inclusion, they are given here to assist the reader to identify one from the other, owing to their similarity.
Kabata, Ume Yashiki,
Plum Gardens at
Kabata. Small tea-houses amongst the trees, and an empty
kago in right foreground. (Dated Snake 2 =1857.)
One of the most beautifully coloured prints of any in the series. Found in two states : (1) strong green in foreground; pink sky behind trees graded to beautiful rosy flush, changing to deep blue at top. (2) Foreground much lighter green; sky much paler pink and no blue at top. Either is first edition; perhaps the first state is the more beautiful colour-effect.
No. 28. Shinagawa, Gotenyama. People crossing the almost dry bed of the Shinagawa, now shrunk to a narrow brook, towards a path up steep yellow cliffs to a plateau beyond on which are planted cherry trees and a few large pines. (Dated Dragon 4 = 1856.) Also found with grey cliffs.
Sunamura, Moto Hachiman,
Hachiman Shrine, Sunamura. In foreground stands the blue-grey torii
of the shrine by blossoming cherry trees, at the edge of a winding causeway
leading out to marshes which melt into the sea beyond, on which are five
sails; hilly coast-line on horizon against a crimson sky. (Dated Dragon
4 = 1856.)
Kameido, Ume Yashiki,
Plum Garden, Kameido,
seen through the branches of a plum tree in blossom, and people sitting
or walking about. Sky deep blue at top, changing to crimson, and then
white below; a plate which owes its effectiveness to the beautiful colour-effect
of the sky; very similar to Plate No.
27. (Dated Snake 11 =1857.)
Azuma no Mori,
Azuma Woods. By
the edge of the water runs a winding yellow path on a raised embankment,
lined with flags, leading to Azuma Shrine; cherry trees in blossom along
the bank. (Dated Dragon 7 = 1856.)
Yanagi ( standing at the confluence of a stream with the Sumida River,
and a bridge leading to it; in a grove of trees stands a temple and other
buildings. On the further side of the river stretches a dark plain with
scattered villages on it, to Mount Tsukuba in the distance, on the left,
rising above white mists. A good colour-effect when well printed. (Dated
Snake 4 = 1857.)
Matsuchi-yama, Yoru no kei,
Night Scene at Matsuchiyama.
A geisha going home at night after an engagement, along the river bank; the lantern
carried by her guide just showing on the left. On the far bank across
the water houses lighted up, and stars shining which are reflected in
the water. (Dated Snake 8 = 1857.) No stars in late issues.
Sumida gawa, Suijin-no-Mori,
of Sui-jin by the Sumida River, and Mount Tsukuba rising above the
mists beyond into a blue sky. One of the masterpieces of the series. (Dated
Dragon 8 =1856.) (See Plate 27, Illustration 4.)
Masaki no hotori yori Suijin-no-Mori, Uchi-kawa Sekiya-no-Sato,
Masaki, the village of Sekiya, the Uchi River, and the woods of
Sui-jin. View through a half-open circular window looking up the
river to Mount Tsukuba in the distance. (Dated Snake 8 = 1857.) Another
masterpiece. (See Plate 28.)
and revellers coming out of the Great Gate of the Yoshiwara on their way
home in the early morning. One of Hiroshige's most famous renderings of
early dawn, the full effect of which is only found in the earliest impressions.
(Dated Snake 4 = 1857.) (See Plate 28.)
Ryogoku Bashi, Okawabata,
Ryogoku Bridge. In foreground a row of yellow-roofed shops backing
on to the river where the Ryogoku Bridge crosses it; three sailing barges
on the water, one furling its sails. Pink bands of mist lie across the
further bank. (Date cut.)
Not a very interesting plate, but included here as it is not given in the B.M catalogue.
No. 40. Sekiguchi. People walking by the river side, a steep wooded slope on the right overlooking the path and flat fields beyond. (Dated Snake 4 =1857.)
Ichiga-ya. The temple standing high on a wooded slope, at foot of
which are teahouses and shops, and in the foreground the water of the
moat. Bands of mist cut across the centre of the picture. (Dated Horse
10 = 1858.)
Nihon bashi Itchome,
First Avenue, Nihonbashi.
A crowded street scene, and in the centre a group of five people under
one large umbrella, followed by a woman with a samisen.
Shohei Bashi, Kandagawa,
Kanda River. Rain scene. Between steep green banks flows the river
; rain beating down from a black sky. On the further side a road uphill,
people walking along it; in bottom corner appears the rail of the bridge
and boats passing below. (Dated Snake 9 = 1857.) A good plate.
The Fudo Waterfall, Oji. A column of
intensely blue water plunges sheer down into a pool enclosed on three
sides by precipitous cliffs, their bases yellow and sides green; behind
the fall black rock. A man entering the pool to bathe, and two women looking
on; another man seated on a bench and a woman bringing him refreshment.
(Dated Snake 9 = 1857.)
Across the chasm, between two trees, is stretched a rope hung with yellow paper streamers. The fall should be strong blue in centre, graded lighter to the edges.
Akasaka, Kiri-bata. Found in two states, but
the first, by Hiroshige, is very uncommon, and represents a village at
the foot of a tree-covered slope, by the edge of the further bank of a
river, seen past two paulownia trees in the foreground on the near side.
Dated 4th month, 1856. The block for this view having been damaged or
lost in a fire early in its career, Hiroshige II was called upon to supply
a new design. This
second edition represents the woods in the background in a mist and
rain falling, with a cluster of trees close to the river in the foreground
and people passing them. This plate, dated 6th month, 1859, is signed
the second Hiroshige, and is considered his best print so
Festival of the Sumiyoshi
Temple, Tsukuda Island. A tall white banner in centre of picture
bearing down the centre large black characters, and the date Ansei 4 (1857)
in small script at the edge; on the left a procession with festival car
passing along a marshy piece of land by the water's edge; on right a junk
at anchor and others in middle distance. Two ships out in the bay and
hilly coast on horizon in red glow of sunset. (Dated in margin Snake 7
= 1857.) (Another print confirming the date-seal.)
Fuka-gawa, Mannen Bashi. A large paper turtle,
emblem of age, hung in an opening of the Mannen (
Bridge over the Fuka River, commanding a fine view of Fuji, and sailing
junks on the water. Dated 11th month, 1857.
O-Hashi no Yudachi,
Storm on the Great
Bridge over the Sumida River, and people rushing for shelter; out
in mid-stream is a man poling along a raft. Considered the
masterpiece of the series, and one of Hiroshige's most famous rain scenes.
Dated 9th month, 1857. (See Plate 28.)
Sky should be black at top graded to dark grey and shore opposite should show strongly through rain against grey sky; piers of bridge black. Late issues have blue sky, opposite shore almost obliterated, and piers grey. Illustration shows correct state from a very fine copy.
Asakusa-gawa, Shubi-no-Matsu, Omma-ya-gashi,
Horse-ford, Shubi pine tree, Asakusa River. A night scene
on the Asakusa River, with stars in the sky; a covered boat passing under
the branches of an overhanging pine tree, and the shadow of a woman inside
faintly showing on the green blind (omitted in late and inferior copies).
Dated 8th month, 1856.
Komagata Do, Azuma Bashi,
and Azuma Bridge. Cuckoo flying against a stormy sky and rain setting
in; behind the bird a wisp of black cloud. Below, the blue river with
boats and rafts on it; on the left a corner of the temple with bridge
beyond. In foreground a red banner on a high mast; buildings seen on
opposite bank backed by woods in leaf. Sky should be black at top just
above the cuckoo, then a deep slaty-blue-grey, and finally grey above
tree tops in background. (Date cut.)
In later impressions the wisp of black cloud is omitted, but instead two small blue clouds project on to the darker sky from either side; also found in very late issues without any cloud at all.
Iris Garden, Horikiri.
Tall iris flowers against a blue sky, growing by the edge of a pond, and
people on the opposite bank admiring the blooms. (Dated Snake 5 = 1857.)
Wistaria at Kameido
Temple. The famous
drum bridge spanning the lake, and
people crossing over it, seen through blooms of wistaria hanging over
the water in the foreground. (Dated Dragon 7 = 1856.)
A very charming view. (See Plate 28, Illustration 4.)
Sakai no Watashi,
Three white herons standing amidst the reeds in the river, and two others
flying down to them; higher up stream two ferry-boats crossing opposite
a cluster of houses; white mist in background, above which appear tree-tops
and hills (grey) in the distance. Pink sky at top, grey in later issues.
(Dated Snake 2 = 1857.)
Suido Bashi, Surugadai,
suburb of Yedo) from Suido Bridge, on the Boys' Festival (May 5th),
and a great paper carp floating from a pole in foreground. Below is the
river and bridge, and the roofs of Suruga-dai; Fuji (grey with streaks
of snow on its cone) rising in distance against a crimson sky, changing
to pale blue-grey and purple at top. Over the distant roofs float other
paper carps and various banners. (Dated
Snake ' intercalary' five
= intercalary fifth month (i.e. May), 1857.)
Kumano Juni Sha,
The Twelve Shrines of Kumano,
Tsunabazu. A large sheet of water with green banks and
small resting-places built by its edge, lined with trees; beyond them
a range of mountains (printed from graded black) rise above a finely graded
mist. A good plate when well printed. (Dated Dragon 7 =1856.)
Soto Sakurada, Benkei Bori,
Benkei Moat outside the Sakurada Gate,
Kojimachi. View of the moat and buildings surrounded by trees on
the left bank; in foreground five figures walking along the bank towards
the gate. (Dated Dragon 4 = 1856.)
bank at the three branches of the river. Fuji rising up beyond the
city, with its warehouses on the banks of the river, and in the foreground
a laden sailing junk, and two other laden barges being poled along, and
behind them a bank of reeds in the centre of the stream. (Date cut.)
Azuma Bashi, Kinryusan Okawa,
Temple and Azuma Bridge from Okawa on the Sumida River. In foreground
the prow of a covered boat stretches across the view, and a girl sitting
in it partly seen on left. Beyond appears the temple roof and its five-storied
pagoda; in distance the Azuma Bridge, and a blue Fuji with white crest.
Cherry blossom falling on the water. (Date cut.)
In best impressions the water should be graded deep blue round sides of boat to lighter beyond and deep again at bottom edge of picture. A good plate.
of the Bell, Ayase River. A man on a raft on the Ayase River; overhead
a branch of the Icho tree in blossom. Dated 7th month, 1857.
In foreground bamboo poles with streamers and paper decorations flying
above the housetops; a grey Fuji rises in the distance above pink mist,
changing to blue above. (Dated Snake 7 = 1857.)
Dyer's Street, Kanda.
A grey Fuji with snow-capped peak seen from Kanda between two tall wooden
stagings, on which are hung to dry long strips of blue and white material.
On the white strips appear, in blue, the monogram of the publisher, and
Hiroshige's diamond seal Hiro. In best impressions
the strips of cloth should be gauffraged with
a minute diaper pattern.
Crimson sky on horizon, blue above. (Dated Snake 11 = 1857.)
Bamboo Bank, Kyo
Bridge. Against a deep blue sky, in which shines a full moon, rises
a long row of bamboo stacks; across the foreground stretches part of
the bridge over a deep blue canal, a man in a punt passing underneath.
A fine plate. (Dated Snake 12 = 1857.) (See Plate 28A.)
Tepposu, Inari bashi, Minato Jin-sha,
Shrine and Inari ( The bridge over
the canal seen between two masts of a boat (one yellow, the other grey-brown),
and roofs of city beyond; a corner of the temple appears on the left
at the edge of the water and two laden barges in foreground. Fuji, its
peak streaked with grey, rises in the distance above a crimson sky, changing
to blue above. (Dated Snake 2 = 1857.)
Fox) Bridge, Tepposu.
Tepposu Tsukiji Monseki,
Temple Tsukiji, at Tepposu, seen across the river, with its roof
rising above the mists; in the foreground, the tops of two sails, and
other boats. (Dated Horse 7 = 7th month, 1858.)
Takanawa, Ushi Machi,
Ox Road, Takanawa.
A rainbow crosses a grey sky above a harbour dotted with sailing-boats
and others at anchor, its colours duplicated in two half-eaten slices
of melon lying on the shore by the wheel and shafts of an upturned cart,
beneath which two puppies are playing. (Dated Snake 4 =1857.)
Water should be a deep blue in foreground, graded lighter towards horizon, on which lies a crimson sky changing to grey and then deep indigo at top.
Tsuki no Misaki,
An open teahouse with a fine view over the sea, dotted with junks at anchor,
and birds flying across the face of a full moon. On the paper screen on
the left appears the shadow of a waitress. Dated 8th month, 1857.
Susaki in Shinagawa.
Benten Shrine in a grove of trees on a small island connected by a bridge
to the mainland; beyond, a wide expanse of sea dotted with sails. (Dated
Dragon 4 = 1856.)
Meguro, Jiji ga cha-ya,
Old Man's Tea-house,
Meguro. On the left, a grassy slope with three large trees on it
and a man gazing at Fuji in the distance; below, a small tea-house by
the edge of the path overlooking a wide plain, across which a solitary
man and horse are wending their way. Dated 4th month, 1857.
Ino-Kashira no Ike Benten,
at Ino-Kashira. View of the lake and shrine on a small island on
the left lying in a grove of trees; wooded green shores line the lake,
and in the distance rise dark hills against a crimson sky above yellow
mist. (Date cut.)
Good colour-effect when well printed.
Takino River, Oji.
People bathing in the
Waterfall River which flows past steep,
rocky banks; on the right a man standing under the straight fall of water
issuing from the cliff above, and two others under a shelter built on
a flat rock in mid-stream. Bridge in middle distance; cliffs crowned
with clumps of trees, some in brown tints of autumn. Path round cliff
on which stands a small red torii. The cliff
should be yellow, then green, and darker green at top; water deep blue
in foreground. Yellow mist in sky behind trees, blue at top. (Dated Dragon
Saruwaka cho, Yoru Shibai,
by Night, Young Monkey Street. One of the best-known plates of the
series. A full moon shining down upon the street, seen in perspective,
lined with buildings on each side, and crowds of people promenading. This
print is remarkable for the shadows cast by the moon, thus showing European
influence in its design. (See page 22.)
Found in two states, the earliest (and very uncommon) has a slight cloud across the face of the moon, omitted in the second state; either of these, with large moon (as in the fine copy here reproduced at Plate B), is the first edition; in late issues (a third state) the position of the moon is altered and it is smaller. The upper windows on the right, from which three figures look down upon the crowds below, should be brightly lit up (an effect lost in many copies); also the whole row of windows opposite. (Dated 9th month, 1856.)
Ukiji, Akiba no keidai,
Garden, Ukiji. In the lower left-hand corner is seen a small booth
in which is seated an old man sketching (said to be Hiroshige himself),
and a woman and girl standing close by, looking across to the trees on
the opposite bank, the lake filling most of the view. European influence
is again seen here in the reflection of the trees in the water. (Dated
8th month, 1857.)
No. 92. Mokuboji, Gozen no niwa. Another beautiful lake and park scene. View of the lake in the Park of Gozen, Mokuboji, and two women landing from a boat and going up to a tea-house, and beyond it a bridge over the lake with people crossing. (Date cut.)
Mama no Momiji, Tekona no Yashiro,
of Mama at Tekona Shrine. View through the overhanging branch of
a maple tree from an elevated point across the Mama-no-Iri-ye Swamp and
its temple to the Oyama Hills in the distance rising above the lowlying
mists. One of the masterpieces of the series, when well printed. (Date
No. 95. Konodai, Tone River. People standing on a high bluff overhanging the river, and admiring the distant view of Fuji across the Plain of Yedo; junks sailing on the river. (Dated Dragon 5 = 1856.)
The overhanging cliff should be overprinted in brown at the edge and the
effect heightened with mica. Fuji white, not blue, which denotes a late issue.
(Compare with same view in Hiroshige's
Views of Fuji series,
No. 96. Horikiri Yokozane. A river flowing past a village of yellow-roofed houses built on both banks; on the right a small temple in grove of trees. In foreground two people snaring wild birds on the mud-bank of the river. In background rises a great white Fuji above a horizon streaked with mist. A good colour and atmospheric effect when well printed. (Dated Dragon 2 =1856.)
No. 98. Ryogoku, Hanabi. Fireworks at Ryogoku Bridge, Yedo, with a great rocket bursting in the sky in a shower of falling stars, and crowds on the bridge and in boats watching. (Dated Horse 8 = 8th month, 1858.)
In the best and finest impressions (but very rare in this state), there should be a bright haze of light round the bursting rocket, and the sky black, such as the copy illustrated at page 462 in the B.M. catalogue; an even finer impression appeared in the Ficke sale, New York. In ordinary impressions the sky is blue instead of black and there is no bright haze round the rocket, which greatly enhances the whole effect of the picture. The fine copy here illustrated at Plate 28A appears to be an intermediate state between the above very rare one and the ordinary impression. The sky is a deep indigo, almost black, with a black strip at the top stretching as far as the stars, while the markings of the grain of the wood-block are very sharply defined. The rocket and stars, originally orange-red (tan), have decomposed to almost black in course of time.
No. 99. (From this plate to the end are comprised the winter scenes, which contain many fine snow views.) Asakusa, Kinryusan. An avenue under deep snow leading up to the Asakusa Temple, and people wending their way thither, viewed through a gateway in which hangs a great circular paper lantern. A well-known plate. (Dated Dragon 7 = 7th month, 1856.)
Yoshiwara, Nihon Tsutsumi,
Embankment leading to Yoshiwara. A half-moon lights up the causeway
leading to the Yoshiwara across the rush-swamps, yellow booths at each
side and crowds passing. Roofs appear in the distance through the grey
and purple mists in the deepening shadows of nightfall; flight of geese
across the sky and moon. (Dated Snake 4 = 1857.) A very fine moonlight
Asakusa Tampo Tori-no-Machi,
of the Cock, Asakusa Rice-fields. A white cat sitting at the bars
of a window watching a procession in the distance wending its way to the
Asakusa Temple, a snowy Fuji in the distance. In first edition copies
Fuji is tinted grey, an effect missing in later issues. Dated 11th month,
1857. A famous print. (See Plate 28A.)
The Great Bridge at
Senju, with people crossing on foot, a man on horseback, and a passenger
in a kago. Three sailing junks on the river,
which stretches away in the distance behind till lost in the mists, above
which rise grey mountains. (Dated Dragon 2 = 2nd month, 1856.)
Ommaya Gashi, Sumidagawa,
Embankment, Sumida River. Two women standing in the bow of a ferry-boat
crossing the Sumida River at Asakusa, and just reaching the bank close
to a mound out of which two willow trees are growing. In first edition
copies the trees stand out in sharp contrast against the sky, an effect
much minimized in late issues. Dated 12th month, 1857.
Timber Yard, Fuka River.
Snow scene on the Fuka River, in the timber district; logs floating in
the water and stacked on shore, the whole scene under heavy snow falling
from an almost black sky. In foreground the top of a yellow umbrella.
The density of the sky varies in different impressions from almost deep
black to grey. (Dated 8th month, 1856.)
Fukagawa Susaki, Yuman Tsubo,
(10,000 acres) Plain, Susaki, Fukagawa. A large eagle hovering in
a dark grey-blue sky over a light blue sea in which a tub is floating
; the adjoining plain and the twin peaks of Mount Tsukuba in the distance
under snow; light snowflakes falling. (Dated Snake intercalary 5 = intercalary
5th month, 1857.) (See Plate 28A.)
One of the masterpieces of the series, and one of Hiroshige's most famous prints. While European collectors appear to consider Plate No. 52 (Storm on the Great Bridge) as the finest print in this series, American collectors seem to prefer this one. A very fine copy realized $180 (£36) in the Ficke sale, a price unheard-of for any print in this or any other upright series by Hiroshige in this country. This series is, as a whole, more highly valued by American collectors than by their British and European confreres; in fact, this applies to almost all prints by Hiroshige, particularly the better-known views. They are particularly keen on his snow scenes.
Shiba-no-ura no kei,
View of the Coast
at Shiba. View of coast-line and sea; flight of
chidori across the scene; junks sailing or at anchor. On the right an embankment
covered with small pines; on the left, posts marking the tideway. (Dated
Dragon 2 = 1856.)
In best impressions the sea should be deep blue in foreground, graded lighter towards the horizon, where it meets a crimson sky; deep blue at top. In late issues the sea is one tint of greeny-blue all through and the sky purple instead of blue.
Senzaku-no-ike, Kesa kake matsu,
'Scarf-hanging Pine,' Senzaku Pond. An old pine tree, protected
by a railing, standing on a peninsula jutting out into the lake, so-called
from Nichiren having, so it was said, hung his scarf (kesa)
upon it. In foreground a tea-house with yellow roof and lanterns hung
outside. Background of dark hills rising above yellow mists against a
crimson sky, changing to deep blue above. (Dated Dragon 2 = 1856.) A good
colour-effect when well printed.
Meguro, Taiko bashi, Yuki-no-oka,
Hill and Drum Bridge at Meguro. One of the best snow scenes in the
series. People crossing the bridge over the Furu River in foreground,
towards the hill on the left and the Meguro Temple; snow falling against
an indigo sky. All is white and grey except the deep blue river and the
figures on the bridge. (Dated Snake 4 = 1857.)
(In best impressions the bridge is grey, not brown.) (See Plate 29.)
No. 112. Atagoshita, Yabu Koji (name of a street in the Shiba district). Another very good snow scene. People plodding along under heavy snow past some buildings on the left, and the canal on the right with overhanging bamboos and sparrows flying about. (Dated 12th month, 1857.)
Toro no mon, Soto Awoizaka,
'Tiger' Gate, Awoizaka. A very fine night and moon scene. A crescent
moon and stars in a dark sky, with flight of birds across the moon and
sky. View of a weir (graded blue water) and moat with a broad road alongside.
In foreground two almost naked apprentices going from shrine to shrine
with bell and lanterns, and beyond an insect-seller carrying his stall
of cages, and part of another one standing on the ground on the right.
(Dated Snake 11 = 1857.)
(Between January 10 and February 1 in each year,
used to go from one icy bath to another at the various Fudo shrines to
procure the recovery of sick relations and friends.)
In later issues no stars are shown, and the crescent moon is turned the opposite way, with its horns to the right.
Bikuni Bashi, Setchu,
in Snow. View looking across the bridge which a laden porter is
approaching, to street beyond at end of which rises a fire-tower. Snow
falling from deep indigo sky. On further side of bridge is a man with
his head buried in his umbrella.
On the left is a notice-board stating that
(really wild boar, so-called to disguise it as a fish!) is for sale. (Dated
Horse 10= 1858.) A fine snow scene.
in the Ushigome district. In foreground the white disc of an archery target
placed close against a pine tree, and in the distance archers practising
at it. Alongside the ground runs the race-course, round which two men
are galloping horses in opposite directions; in the distance a greyish-white
Fuji (printed without outline) rises up into a delicate pink sky, changing
to blue above. (Dated Snake 1 =1st month, 1857.)
In best impressions the target and trunk of tree is sprinkled with mica dust; the grass in bottom foreground should be printed in deep green, graded to lighter shade, Fuji delicately tinted in grey.
Yushima, Tenjin Sama,
Yushima. Snow scene. View from the summit on which the temple stands
looking out across the Shinobazu Pond, in the centre of which stands the
shrine of Benten on an island. At the left, part of a torii
appears (grey in early impressions, blue in
later ones); close by stands a woman with closed umbrella admiring the
view, and two other people coming up the steps to the temple from the
houses below. (Dated Dragon 4 = 1856.) Very fine plate when well printed.
Oji, Shozoku Enoki Omisoka Kitsune-bi,
foxes under Enoki trees at Shozoku, Oji. A number of foxes breathing
fire, assembling round a tree at night; stars in the sky. (Dated Snake
9 = 1857.)
(On the last day of the year foxes were supposed to breathe out fire.)
In imitation of the foregoing, Hiroshige II designed a series, full
size, upright, entitled Toto San-ju Rok'kei,
Thirty-six Views of Toto (i.e. Yedo); publisher Aeto of Yedo,
and variously dated between the years 1859 and 1862. The series
title is on a narrow upright red label, and the sub-title of the plate
itself on an adjoining fan-shaped panel; date and publisher's seals in
The series as a whole suffers from the crude aniline colours in which many of the plates are printed, but the following are selected as being amongst the best work of Hiroshige II, well drawn and not suffering (except in late impressions) from the above defects.
1. Ryogoku Bridge, Yedo. View from a balcony overlooking the Sumida River and the Ryogoku Bridge; a woman standing and a man squatting on the balcony watching a laden sailing barge pass downstream. On a screen half hiding the figure of the woman is a hanging kakemono decorated with an eagle perched on a rock, and on it the signature Shogetsu; sealed Sho. (Dated Dog 3 = 3rd month, 1862.)
2. Makuchiyama Temple by the Imado Bridge. A very good snow scene. The temple standing in a grove of trees on a hill overlooking the houses by the river bank; in foreground an island in the centre of the river, and a covered boat passing. Snow falling from a sky black at top carefully graded to grey below; flakes over the water. (Dated Cock 8 = 8th month, 1861.)
3. Tenjin Temple at Yushima. Another very fine snow scene. People walking about the grounds in front of the main gate of the temple during a heavy snowfall; on paper flags hung round the booth in the centre are written the monograms of artist and publisher. Sky black at top and on horizon, indigo between. (Dated Goat 9 = 9th month, 1859.) (See Plate 29, Illustration 2.)
4. Tsukuda Island at the Mouth of the Sumida River. The masterpiece of the set.
Boats fishing by night with flares off the island of Tsukuda, and two large junks moored in mid-stream. (Dated Dog 8 = 8th month, 1862.) (See Plate 29.)
Early impressions should show the sea well graded from dark green in foreground to pale blue-green on the horizon, with carefully graded black sky into which mingles the smoke from the flares, an effect missing in late issues, while the flares are also graded from deep red to pink.
5. Morning Mist at Zojoji Temple. Another unusually good plate. Early morning scene in the open space in front of the main entrance to the Temple which shows up through the mist; two lady pilgrims, followed by their porter, looking at a passing fish-vendor. (Dated Cock year = 1861.) (See Plate 29.)
6. Atago Temple. View from the terrace overlooking city below to Yedo Bay in distance; at edge of the broad walk stand two shelters hung round with red and white lanterns; kites flying over city roofs below and people walking about. (Date cut.)
7. Mimeguri. A woman and two men standing under a blossoming cherry tree in the light of a full moon, near Mimeguri Temple; the top of a torii seen below them on the left. One of the best plates of the set. (Date cut.)