EXHIBITION IN COMMEMORATION OF THE SIXTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF HIROSHIGE
ICHIRYUSAI-HIROSHIGE is already recognized by the westerners as one of the most prominent landscape painters that the world has ever had. His real worth has came of late to be recognized by intelligent sections of society in this country. His fame is now spreading throughout the length and breadth of the land as the unequalled artist of a pure native and national type. Prints left by Hiroshige are now objects of unbounded admiration among lovers of pictures here. He died on September 6 of the 5th year of the era styled Ansei (1858), that is six decades ago. An agreement was reached among students and admirers of this great artist to hold an exhibition of his productions by way of conducting the service in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of his death.
On the anniversary of his death last year (1916), interested parties held a little commemorative service at the Togakuji Temple ), Matsuyama-cho, Asakusa, where his remains lie buried, and it was then proposed to celebrate the 60th anniversary of his death on the grandest scale possible. They had, however, no opportunity to meet again to talk over the proposition before the anniversary was fast drawing near. The opportunity was then availed of by some admirers of Hiroshige to hold this commemorative service and exhibition.
It was decided to hold the exhibition in the upper floor of the Takashimaya Drapery Shop at Minami-Temmacho, Kyobashi near where the artist lived until his death, (his residence was located at Ogacho, Naka-bashi-Hirokoji, the street leading to the corner at which the Takashimaya now stands) for three days commencing September 6. All those interested in Hiroshige were chosen as either promoters or supporters and the manageent of the various affairs concerning the opening of the exhibition was entrusted to Mr. Watanabe of the Association for the Study of the Ukiyoye.
As for the exhibits, the most representative and choicest ones were selected from among productions of Hiroshige presented by their collectors. Every care was taken not to soil those treasures while on display. Each print was mounted with thick paper and placed in a panelled frame. It is needless to say that the representative artistic merits of Hiroshige are to be best seen in his prints. In order, however, to remember the great artist as fully as possible, there were put on display his original paintings, illustrated books, rough drawings, kakemono and even various books regarding Hiroshige. To complete the significance of the undertaking, there were exhibited, in addition to all these, the most precious personal relics of the artist, namely ; his family tablet, a register of the dead members of his family, doorplate, short sword worn by him and even his death-song written with his own hands.
The entrance to the exhibition hall was decorated with white curtains with red patterns of Hiroshige's badge (). All the walls inside were covered with curtains of dark brown colour so as to avoid the reflection of light. Framed pictures and kakemono were hung up on the upper parts of the walls each at a proper space from the other. At the lower parts of the walls there were long stands on which were put on display illustrated books, albums, scrolls, block copies, rough drawings, sketches and proof sheets. On the wall to the left of the entrance there were hung up pictures of warriors, actors and women all representing the productions of his youthful years, and on the wall to the right landscapes drawn during the early days of the period of his artistic fame. On the central wall at a portion cut out in a semi square form, were hung landscapes drawn in his prime or during the most flourishing period of his artistic life. On the wall right before the entrance there were displayed chiefly pictures of birds and flowers and some landscapes and humorous pictures. Nearer the exit there were shown uchiwaye (print in the shape of a fan) harimaze (mixed prints) and pictures of landscapes and customs and manners each consisting of three sheets and representing the production of his closing years, followed by kakemono from his brush. All these exhibited pictures numbered more than three hundred. Besides there were many more offered which however could not be exhibited owing to the limited space of the hall.
Turning to the right from the entrance there was a place specially set apart for Hiroshige's family tablet. The tablet with his posthumous Buddhist name (Genkoin-Tokuo-Ryusai-Koji) was placed on an altar surrounded by a gold-leafed screen. Hanging on the wall behind the screen, there was a kakemono. Right before the tablet on the altar there were placed the register of the dead members of Hiroshige's family called Ando, his name plate, short sword, death-song and portrait and on the left was set a wooden statuette of Toyohiro, Hiroshige's teacher. On the wall on the right were hung the famous three triptychs, Hiroshige's masterpieces drawn in his closing years consisting of the Kiso Mountains in snow, Views of Kanazawa in the moon light, Musashi Province, and Rapids of Awa-no-Naruto: which represent the views of snow, moon and flowers. On the altar there were offerings of burning incense, flowers and sweets according to Buddhist rites. Thus the place assumed a most solemn aspect commemorative of the renowned lamented artist. There was a room specially provided for the reception of visitors who were there served with cakes stamped with patterns of Hiroshige's seals, by waiters clad in garments decorated with the same device. Promotors and reception committee all wore red badges with the same sign in white.
FIRST DAY OF THE EXHIBITION.
The 60th anniversary of the death of Hiroshige falling on this very day, the interested parties visited in the morning the Togakuji Temple, Kita-Matsuyamacho, Asakusa, his family temple, and there prayers were offered for the repose of his soul.
From early in the morning the exhibition hall was thronged with a concourse of visitors coming one after another. Ushers at the entrance received a name card from each visitor and registered the names of those who had not brought cards. Each visitor was given a list of exhibits at the entrance. In the afternoon the number of visitors increased in a marked manner evidently owing to the fact that a religious service followed by a lecture meeting was to be held in the hall. When the commemorative service was about to be opened at 2 o'clock, the hall was literally packed. The service was conducted by ten priests who offered prayers before the altar. The old fashioned ritual and costumes were a reminder of the old days and were therefore more than fitting for the service in memory of the man who lived in pre-Meiji times. All those present watched the solemn and impressive scene with spell-bound attention. Immediately after the service there was a lecture meeting. An opening address was delivered by Mr. Shozaburo Watanabe who dwelt in detail upon the purpose of the inauguration of the commemorative exhibition. The next speaker was Mr. Minoru Uchida who, after recalling the impression made upon him when he first saw Hiroshige's prints, set forth his views that Hiroshige is the most genuine landscape painter of pure Japanese style and then gave some biographical accounts of the artist according to his own investigations. He concluded his speech by highly eulogizing his character and personality. Mr. Yone Noguchi, poet, rose last and read respectfully a panegyric paying a great tribute to the artistic merits of Hiroshige which made a deep impression upon the audience. The meeting was closed at 5 o'clock. There were as many as three thousand visitors far outnumbering the lists of exhibits which were prepared for three days' attendance. Promoters had therefore to print many additional lists that day. Among the visitors were such men of note as Marquis Inouye, Viscount Dr. Suyematsu, Viscount Takaaki Kato, Messrs. Suisai Tsuboya, Sinzo Takata, Noboru Watanabe, Chifuyu Watanabe, Drs. Koreshiro Wada, Nobutsuna Sasaki, Mr. Kiyokata Kaburaki (painter) and Madames Yachiyo Okada and Toshiko Tamura, besides many foreigners.
THE SECOND DAY.
The number of visitors for the day was far greater than that for the preceding day apparently due to the tremendous success of the exhibition on the first day as reported by the Press as well as by the visitors themselves. The rare collections of pictures so greatly attracted the attention of visitors that despite the great heat which was otherwise unbearable some of them went round the hall over and over again while others were seen eagerly sketching pictures. Among the visitors was Baron Kihachiro Okura, President of Okura & Co., who was accompanied by a secretary. After talking to men around him about the days when he often enjoyed the company of the great artist at meetings of comic-poems, the octogenarian business magnate of Japan took out of his pocket a large strip of paper on which he had written beforehand a comic-poem and presented it to the Head of Takashimaya in commemoration of the occasion. It runs as follows :-
Sekaiteki motehayasaruru Yamatoye no hiroki kuiki wa Hiroshige-no fude.
(Japanese pictures enjoy universal admiration, but none are of so wide a repute as Hiroshige's).
On the previous day the committee feared that the unexpectedly large crowd of visitors might lead to some damage to the precious pictures. In order therefore to entirely keep off spectators, the exhibits were all enclosed on this second day by a red and white rope forming a protecting barrier. The visitors numbered more than 6000 including such noted physicians as Drs. Kure, Irizawa, Koike and Baron Takagi. Marquis Hachisuka, Baron Hamao, Dr. Tsubouchi, the famous dramatist, Messrs. Narinobu Hirayama, Naohiko Masaki, President of the School of Art, Otake M. P., Nemoto, M. P., Drs. Watase and Mizukuri and Baron Shigesuye Sakai.
THE THIRD DAY.
This being the closing day of the exhibition, there was a far greater number of visitors than on the foregoing two days. In the afternoon, as it was Saturday there were seen many Government officials and students. Some visitors suggested that the exhibition of such rarities be left open for another few days. But it was closed that day as previously arranged. Visitors for the day numbered over 7,000. Among them were Messrs. Suyeo Iwaya, Oye, and Hiroshi Yosano, poet, Drs. Hattori, Tamba, Matsumoto and Koike, Mr. Kusaka, member of the House of Peers, Mr. Yamaguchi M. P., and many foreigners. The number of visitors for the three days put together was over 16,000. Such a signal success was unprecedented in the records of similar undertakings. And the promoters and supporters were all overjoyed at the thought that they could do some service to the departed soul of the great Hiroshige.
It must be added that the Takashimaya Drapery store where the exhibition was held had hitherto been applying the Ukiyoye pictures to designs for various articles. Taking advantage of the opportunity of the exhibition they specially manufactured lining of haori, the material of obi, designs on the skirt of crape, etc., to which were deftly applied Hiroshige's noted landscape prints such as the Tokaido, the famous sights of Kyoto and Yedo and put them on show in the shop. They all greatly attracted the attention of visitors. The promoters were greatly indebted to the firm for generously bearing all the expenses required for fitting out the hall and for giving various conveniences.
The lists of Promoters and supporters are appended:
Messrs. Kendo Ishii, Goyo Hashiguchi, J. S. Happer, Naoshige Ochiai, Shozaburo Watanabe, Minoru Uchida, Beisai Kubota, Takeshiro Mayeda, Shokichi Sakai, Hiromichi Shugio, Tatsugoro Hirose, Toranosuke Suzuki.
Messrs. Tatsujiro Nakamura, Seishichi Matsui, Kenkichi Hirakawa, Kimbei Murata, Kihei Hattori, Matsunosuke Suwa, Kyugo Hayashi, Ichiro Ichihara, Kenichi Kawaura, Yasuzo Nakagawa, Zenjiro Kakuha, Seitaro Mizutani, Kokichi Murata, Seizu Kaneko, Kumezo Wada, Naoji Shimizu, Zenyemon Matsuki, Kingo Ichikawa and Mrs. Yoneko Yamamoto.