VARIOUS SERIES OF HAK'KEI, OR
EIGHT VIEWS, AND
SIX TAMA RIVERS
EIGHT VIEWS was a theme borrowed from Chinese Poetry
and adapted to various scenes in Japan, the subject for each scene being
the same, with its attendant poem, whatever the locality.
The eight subjects were: (1) Snow; (2) Evening Rain; (3) Autumn Moon; (4) Vesper Bells; (5) Boats Returning at Evening; (6) Geese Flying to Rest; (7) Sunset; and (8) Clearing Weather after Rain.
Of the various localities to which these
Eight Views were
adapted, Lake Biwa, in the Province of Omi, was the most popular and is
the best known . These series are known as the
Hak'kei, and the finest of them is the early oblong set by Hiroshige,
any one of which is a masterpiece. A companion set, also by Hiroshige,
of Eight Views in the Environs of Yedo, is perhaps the only other series
which, as a whole, is equally as fine. Both series are rare, particularly
The following comprise the views in the
Omi series; publishers'
seals of KAWASHO (Yeisendo) and HOYEIDO (Takeuchi).
Title of series on a narrow red label, and the sub-title and poem on an adjoining square label.
It will, we think, give an added interest if we quote Mr. Binyon's translations to each verse (taken from the British Museum catalogue), which will show how well Hiroshige has conveyed the spirit of the poem into his drawings. The fame, indeed, of this series rests upon the extraordinary poetic quality infused into the composition.
1 . Evening
Snow on Mount Hira.
He who would see the beauty of the evening
on the peaks of Hira must behold it after the snows have fallen, and before
the flowers are fully blown.
In the foreground a snow-covered village and clumps of bamboo by an inlet of the lake; behind rises the snowy mass of Mount Hira beyond hills. Seal Yeisendo.
2. Night Rain on Karasaki.
Elsewhere will they talk of the music
of the evening breeze that has made the pine of Karasaki famous; the
voice of the wind is not heard through the sound of the rain in the night.
View of the great pine almost blotted out by the downpour of rain. Seal Yeisendo.
This plate is also found in a very rare state printed in blue.
3. Autumn Moon on Ishiyama.
0 Hill of Stone, the image of the moon
that thou seest appear on Niwo Sea, is it not more beautiful than even
the moonlit Akashi, or Suma?
On the left rises a steep rocky cliff, on the summit of which stands Ishiyama Temple, overlooking the lake. In the distance appears the long Seta Bridge, while still further, on the horizon, a mountain shows through the mist, its peak emerging above the moonlit haze. Seal Hoyeido.
4. Vesper Bell, Mii Temple.
At the sound of the bell beginning
from Mii-dera, Hark ! says the traveller, I am one step nearer the twilight.
In the foreground flat fields, and trees bordering a road; beyond lie the temple buildings on the wooded hill-side which is overlooked by yet higher mountains behind; yellow mists on the hills and sky a deep orange. Seal Take. Found in two states; in the later one the foreground is green and the upper part of the hills is reddish in colour.
5. Boats Returning to Yabase.
The boats that come with swelling
sails to Yabase have been chased by the wind along the coasts of Uchide.
Some are out in the centre of the lake, others in-shore, or coming to anchor. Behind the opposite coast-line a mountain raises its peak above the mist; in the distance, on the right, a cluster of sails loom through the evening haze. Seal Hoyeido.
(This view is illustrated in the Handbook to the Print Collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum, at Plate XI, but over the incorrect title of Autumn Moon on Ishiyama.)
6. Geese Flying to Rest at Katata.
After crossing many a mountain
range, the wild geese alight at Katata for a while, soon to continue their
flight to northern Koshiji.
In the foreground a fishing-boat with nets hanging up to dry, and other boats on the lake; flights of wild geese descending from the sky; a background of high hills, their peaks rising clear above low-lying mist. Seal Yeisendo.
7. Sunset at Seta.
Perhaps the chief masterpiece of a set in which all
Soft and fitful rain passes far away over the
mountains; the evening light streams along the Bridge of Seta.
View of the long Seta Bridge running right across the lake from the village at the foot of Ishiyama; in the background rises the peak of the lesser Fuji (not the Fuji as sometimes erroneously described) into a beautiful orange sky. Seal Hoyeido. (See Plate 22.)
8. Clearing Weather at Awadzu.
White as when the wind clears away
the cloud and scatters it, the sails of a hundred boats come flying to
View of the road along the shore of the lake lined with trees, and boats on the water; background of hills behind which rises a higher mountain, its peak clear of the low-lying mist. Seal Hoyeido.
As with other series, Hiroshige issued these Lake Biwa views in other forms, as a full-size, vertical set (dated Snake 3 = 1857), through the publisher UWO-YEI; in a half-plate set, through TSUTA-YA (rare), which another artist, Utagawa Sadanobu, has copied practically line for line; and various miniature quarter-plate sets.
At Plate 25, page 152, we reproduce one view from his full-size upright set, Homing Geese at Katada, for purposes of identification. The poem is written in a conventional illuminated cloud across the top; the title on a narrow, oblong label and sub-title alongside it. Date-seal, publisher's seal, and aratame seal in margin. This is a good and uncommon set, which is sometimes attributed (though wrongly) to Hiroshige II, though possibly he may have assisted his master in this as in other upright series.
Hiroshige II has left a set of
Omi Hak'kei views (upright),
but these are dated 1862, while his master's set is dated 1857. (See Note,
Hiroshige's half-plate Omi Hak'kei set is perhaps his finest work in small size, and is wholly different in conception to his full-size, oblong set described above. As a rule his small series are more or less reduced copies or adaptations of the full-size ones.
Hokusai has designed a half-plate set of Omi Hak'kei views, entitled
New Edition) Omi Hak'kei (the only set of this subject
by him which has been noted), in prevailing tints of green and yellow,
with bands of pink and purple cloud drawn across the view; signed Hokusai;
very early work with this signature, c. 1800; no poem.
Utagawa Sadahide has concentrated all eight views into one large view in a triptych (illustrated in Orange and Thornicraft Sale Catalogue, March, 1912) which shows Seta Bridge in the foreground, Mount Ishiyama in the left panel, and Mount Hira under snow in the distance on the right.
Eight Views of Lake Biwa was a subject portrayed by
several artists besides Hiroshige, though his series are the best known.
Toyohiro, for example, his master, has designed a set, almost square, in which the views are in a circle.
The next Hak'kei series by Hiroshige which we will now describe contains what are considered his chief masterpieces in landscape design in the full-size, oblong format, namely his Autumn Moon on the Tama River, and Night Rain at Azumasha; views of which we here reproduce at Plate 22 from the Happer catalogue, by courtesy of Messrs. Sotheby.
YEDO KINKO HAK'KEI,
1. Asukayama, Bosetsu,
This is the only snow scene known to the writer (but he believes there are others) in which the falling flakes of snow are indicated with a pigment (made from whitelead), instead of the natural white of the paper itself, with the result that they are now black owing to chemical decomposition.
2. Azumasha, Yoru Ame,
One of the two rarest plates in the set, and one of the chief masterpieces.
3. Tamagawa, Akinotsuki,
The masterpiece of the set, and considered Hiroshige's finest design in landscape scenery in this form. (See Plate 22.)
4. Ikegami, Bansho,
5. Gyotoku, Kihan,
6. Haneda, Rakugan,
7. Koganei, Sekisho,
8. Shibaura, Seiran,
Eight Views of Kanazawa. Full-size, oblong
prints; publisher KOSHIMURA-YE (Heisuke), whose seal (Koshi-hei) is stamped
in margin. Very rare.
1. Uchikawa, Bosetsu,
Snow at Uchikawa. In the foreground three peasants trudging
along the road by the edge of which grows a tall tree; snow-covered shores
of an inlet of the sea, and a raft on it; hills in the distance.
2. Koidzumi, Yoruame,
Rain at Koidzumi. On a narrow road across fields two peasants
meet in a downpour of rain; a misty landscape scene, with straw stacks
in the fields, and trees dotted about.
3. Seto, Akinotsuke,
Moon at Seto. In the right foreground stands a tea-house, and
two small bridges spanning the water in the middle distance; a rounded
hill in the background.
4. Shomyo, Bansho,
Bell at Shomyo. View of a village on the flat bank of a river
or lake, in front of a wood, over which lies evening mist. Above the mist
rises a hill on which can be seen the temple buildings, their roofs peeping
through the dense woods; out in the stream two boats, in one of which
a woman bends in prayer at the sound of the temple bell.
5. Otomi, Kihan,
Boats at Otomi. View of a road fringed with trees with flat
fields on one side and the broad stream of a river or inlet, flowing into
a wide bay, on the other. On the road two peasants stop for a chat, while
a junk with big square sail drifts slowly by; out in the bay are other
boats in full sail.
There is in existence an extremely rare state of this print printed almost entirely in blue.
6. Hirakata, Rakugan,
Geese at Hirakata. A long pinecovered strip of land dividing
the bay from an inlet; in the foreground people gathering shellfish;
overhead a flight of wild geese.
7. Nojima, Sekisho,
at Nojima. View of Nojima village lying by the edge of the sea
at the foot of Nojima-yama, with the island of Natsu-shima in the distance.
(See Plate 22.)
8. Suzaki, Seiran,
Weather at Suzaki. A man poling along a timber raft on a river
in foreground; on the bank behind an overhanging willow tree growing
in front of a cluster of huts, and two fishing nets put
up to dry alongside. Beyond, a row of trees stretch across green fields
away to the right, and in the background rise grey hills against an orange
Hiroshige has also left a very rare series of eight half-block size
triptychs entitled Meisho Yedo Hak'kei,
Famous Eight Views of Yedo
; publisher Jo-kin; not mentioned by Happer. (Private sale, June,
1912, six plates of the set.) They are mainly large figure-studies a la
Kunisada with a landscape background. These follow the usual Hak'kei theme,
the six views in the above sale being
Autumn Moon at Takanawa;
Evening Snow at Asakusa;
Sunset at Ryogoku Bridge;
Evening Bell at Uyeno;
Returning Boats at Tsukuda-jima;
Rain at Mimiguri.
MEISHO HAK'KEI (
Famous Eight Views) series by Gosotei TOYO-KUNI.
A set of eight full-size, oblong views; published by ISE-IRI (Ise ya Rihei), whose seal is in the margin (not reproduced in the illustrations, but see Appendix), and also at end of large horizontal label, which carries the title and sub-title in large white characters, the sub-title being also on the face of each plate. Underneath Toyokuni's signature is a red seal, Utagawa. Very rare.
In addition to their rarity, the views in this set are interesting from the fact that Gosotei Toyokuni was, with practically this one exception, a designer of theatrical prints and actor-portraits; in this instance he has clearly come under the influence of Hiroshige.
The plates here reproduced show clearly the peculiar characteristics of this set of Hak'kei views; the title written in white characters on a large horizontal label, sometimes violet or a deep purple, or gold, as in Illustration No. 4; the hard but very sharp outline and cold brilliance of colouring, characteristics very noticeable in the prints of the Osaka school of artists.
As is the case with the majority of uncommon series, this set is particularly difficult to find in really fine state.
Autumn Moon on the Tama River. Men fishing by moonlight
in the Tama River, and two others wading in the stream; on the shore,
in front of a straw-roofed hut, two women pounding cloth in a mortar (the
attribute of the Chofu Tama River, Province of Musashi). In the distance
a blue Fuji rises above a purple band of mist, its snowy peak lit up by
a full moon, across the face of which passes a light cloud. Round the
prow of one boat is the smoke from a flare lit to attract the fish. Perhaps
the masterpiece of the set. (See Plate F, page 156, for reproduction in
Evening Glow (Sunset) at Atami. A semicircular bay with
steep coast-line on two sides, and three large junks at anchor close to
the shore, others sailing further out, and islands in the distance; from
the summit of one rises the smoke of the volcano of Oshima.
In the foreground a cluster of straw-roofed huts, and on the beach two gangs of men hauling in a large net. (See Plate 23.)
Returning Boats at Kanazawa. Boats entering the almost
landlocked inlet of Kanazawa, the rays of the setting sun cutting across
a deep rose-pink sky. The hilly shores of the inlet are faintly reflected
in the deep blue of the water; in the foreground are two small foot-bridges
connecting a little island with two promontories, on one of which is a
teahouse, which two women, followed by their porter, are approaching;
in the opposite direction passes a peasant. (See Plate 23.)
Homing Geese at Miho. View from the mouth of the Okitsu
River looking across the Miho no Matsubara peninsula and bay to the mountainous
coast-line beyond, behind which rises a great Fuji, its peak white with
snow, faintly printed from grey colour-block only, and white mist rising
from its base.
On a rocky cliff on left, overlooking the river, stands Kiyomi Temple; below it on the beach is a village, off which junks are anchored. Across the sky, flying towards the temple, is a long flight of wild geese. Another very fine plate.
Evening Rain at Oyama. Partly obscured by a heavy slanting
downpour of rain rises the wooded hill of Oyama, on the summit of which
stands the temple of Fudo, approached by steep steps, and pilgrims ascending.
On the left rises the brown peak of Fuji through the rain. A wonderful
Vesper Bell, Kamakura. View of Boshu Mountains in the distance
across the sea from the courtyard of the Temple on Tsurugaoka Hill.
Clearing Weather at Enoshima. In the centre the rocky,
wooded island of Enoshima, and big waves breaking on shore in the foreground;
on left an overhanging cliff crowned with trees, and in the distance
(right) a grey Fuji rises into the sky, its summit white with snow.
Evening Snow on Fuji. View of the great mountain towering
up into the sky, looking across a temple, fresh snow on the peak of Fuji.
YEDO HAK'KEI, by Keisai YEISEN. This is an uncommon series (also difficult to find in fine state) of Eight Views of Yedo, full-size, oblong, issued by the publisher YAMAMOTO-HEIKICHI (Yamakiu or Yamahei), (seal in margin); censor's seal of Wataru, which places the date of publication about 1846; signed Keisai Yeisen.
Autumn Moon, Atago Hill. On the right a corner of the
Temple at Shiba overlooking Yedo Bay, lit by a large full moon in the
centre; in foreground a pine tree.
Sunset at Ryogoku. The big Ryogoku Bridge spanning the
Sumida River and fireworks bursting in the air above it; in the foreground
the Asakusa Bridge over the canal which here joins the river. In the distance
a rising moon and light blue clouds across its face.
One of the best plates in the series. (See Plate 23.)
Returning Boats, Shiba. In foreground a big junk and others
round it sailing into harbour; in background a large Fuji overlooking
the bay, snow on its peak, and clouds resting on the side of the mountain.
Homing Geese, Sumida River. View up the river from Mukojima;
in foreground a road along which coolies and pack-horses are passing,
part of a torii of a temple showing. In the distance the blue peak of
Evening Rain at Yoshiwara. People under umbrellas passing
along the Nihon Embankment in a downpour of rain.
Evening Snow on Shinobu Hill. The masterpiece of the set.
View of the island in the Shinobazu Lake on which stands the temple or
Benten, seen from Shinobu Hill in mid-winter. (See Plate 23.)
Clearing Weather at Nihon Bridge, and two cranes flying
over the river.
Vesper Bells, Uyeno Temple. View of the temple surrounded
by pines and cherry trees in blossom.
Another rare series of YEDO VIEWS, eight in number, by YEISEN, but without title, and not following the Hak'kei theme, has been noted. (Set in Swettenham sale, May, 1912.)
This set is full size, upright, and each view is enclosed in a black frame, with white letters in curious European characters, forming the word Holland.
SUMIDAGAWA HAK'KEI series, by HIROSHIGE II. Very rare, particularly well-printed
first edition copies; even late impressions printed in (generally) aniline
colours are by no means common. Publisher HIRANOYA; each view dated Cock
11 = 11th month, 1861. This series constitutes Hiroshige II's best work
in this form, and most of the views in it are worthy to be placed alongside
any of those by Hiroshige himself of the same nature. The best plate is
the snow scene, reproduced in the Happer sale catalogue at Plate XXX,
closely followed by that for the
Autumn Moon and
Evening Rain, which two we here illustrate at Plate 24.
Autumn Moon at Makuchiyama Temple. On the right a corner
of the temple standing on a mound in the shadow of a big tree, overlooking
the Imado Bridge and Sumida River, the whole scene under a large full
moon, and a flight of geese across its face.
Sunset at Mimeguri Embankment. View from the river embankment
looking across to the city on the opposite bank and Fuji in the distance
(printed from grey colour-block only); in foreground a woman passing
along and another standing in a boat below looking at her. Trees growing
along the edge of the bank, and on the left the corner of a teahouse with
a paper lantern hung from the roof. At the foot of the picture appears
the top of a stone torii.
Returning Boats at Azuma Bridge. In the foreground the
large sail of a boat partly hiding the bridge, which is seen from a point
above; on the further side of it are two laden barges lowering sails
and coming to anchor. On the further shore appear the roofs and pagoda
of a temple rising above the trees; across the view, hiding the buildings
by the river's edge, is a band of pink mist, floating over the bridge.
In the distance the yellow glow of sunset.
Geese Flying to Rest at Shirahige. A flock of geese flying
down from the sky and alighting on the yellow shore by the edge of the
river. In the distance a range of blue hills printed from colourblock
Evening Rain at Makurabashi. One of the masterpieces of
the set. In background a thickly wooded island approached by two small
bridges; across one passes a peasant in straw raincoat, and behind him,
going in the opposite direction, a woman with her head buried in an umbrella
and carrying a lantern. The rain block, printed in blue, is often missing
except in the earliest impressions.
Evening Snow at Hashiba. A ferry-boat with passengers crossing
the river in a heavy snowfall; the landscape white with snow, and on
the left, by the edge of the river, temple buildings appear in a grove
of trees. The snow on the ground should be slightly tinted in grey to
throw the snow-laden trees into greater relief.
Clearing Weather at Sekiya Village. A woman and a child
crossing a small bridge over a stream, watching a chidori flying towards
them; in the centre of the view a large pine tree, beyond which is the
river and sails on it.
The sky a pale yellow on the horizon graded to white and then blue at the top, an effect which well reproduces the idea of clearing weather after rain.
Vesper Bells at Mii Temple. A woman walking along the Nihon
Embankment, looking over her left shoulder; on the right a big tree and
opposite it a cherry tree in blossom. Behind two other figures on the
bank close to another cherry tree; the river winding away in the distance
towards a range of blue hills, from colour-block only.
MUTSU TAMAGAWA - SIX TAMA RIVERS
The six rivers of the same name in various provinces furnished another favourite theme for landscape designs. As in the Hak'kei views, each river had its one particular theme for treatment.
Hiroshige designed two full-size series, oblong and upright, of this subject, besides some in a panel shape. The most important are the two full-size series, the early oblong set issued by TSUTA-YA (a view from which, showing the Musashi Tama River, is here reproduced at Plate 24), and the later vertical set issued by MARU KYU, each print of which is dated Snake 11 = 11th month, 1857. Although this vertical series was issued barely a year before Hiroshige's death, it is, in the writer's opinion, perhaps his masterpiece in this form, while the colouring is exceptionally good for so late a date. The view of the two women beating cloth by moonlight, by the Kimuta Tama River, is a masterpiece in the art of producing the greatest effect with the simplest means, and of his many moonlight scenes this one is amongst the finest. (See Plate 25.) (See note, page 153.)
Both these sets are rare, particularly fine copies of them.
In the oblong series the title Sho-koku Mutsu Tamagawa (
(Crystal) Rivers of Various Provinces) is on a red label in the
right-hand margin, and below it is the publisher's seal.
Before describing each plate in these series, we may explain that they
are called Mutsu Tamagawa instead of Roku (the usual word for six in Japanese),
by saying that the former (sometimes written
Mu) is an alternative
for six, and is used in this particular case because Mutsu is also the
name of one of the Tama River provinces, likewise known as Michinoku;
a designation, however, only used in literature.
The different scenes for each river are as follows:
1. The Kimuta Tama River, Province of Settsu. Two women pounding cloth by the edge of a stream in the light of a full moon. The masterpiece of the set. (See Plate 25.)
Poem by Toshiyori:
The sighing of the pine branches sharpens the
autumn loneliness, where they beat the cloth by the banks of Tama River.
2. The Noji Tama River, Province of Yamato. A nobleman (or poet), attended by two retainers, looking at the moon's reflection in the stream, whose banks are fringed with flowering bush-clover.
Poem by Toshiyori:
We shall come again to Tama River by the meadow-path,
where the bush-clover grows, and it may be we shall see the moon's image
lying among the ripples.
3. The Ide Tama River, Province of Yamashiro. The poet, Ariwarano-Narihira, crossing the river on horseback, with two attendants; on the banks yellow roses in bloom.
Poem by Toshinari:
We stop our horse and give him refreshing water
from Tarna River in Ide, where the yellow roses blow.
4. The Chofu Tama River, Province of Musashi. Two women pounding cloth in a mortar, another rinsing it in the river, and some distance behind a fourth spreading it out on the ground to dry. Fuji in the background. Another very fine plate. (Reproduced in colours at Plate B, page 22.) (See also Plate 24 for illustration of this view in the oblong set.)
Poem by Sada-iye:
In the vale of Tama River the cloth which is
hung on the high leaves of the hedges shakes off the morning dew.
5. The Koya Tama River, Kii Province. Two pilgrims standing by the edge of the stream (in the oblong series three are shown resting by the bank) gazing at the water, said to be poisoned. In the background a high mountain, and on the right a waterfall. (Illustrated in Happer's Heritage of Hiroshige.)
Poem by Kubo-Daishi:
The traveller may forget everything; he might
forget to beware of fetching water from the Tama River in Koya.
6. The Noda Tama River, Mutsu Province. A Court lady or poetess (in the oblong series two ladies) and her attendant watching a flight of sanderlings across the water.
Poem by No-in:
When evening comes the wind blows salt in Mutsu,
and the plovers of the river cry over the wide fields.
(The above translations of the poems are taken from the set catalogued in the British Museum collection.)
Of the various forms in which the above series is found, the writer considers the vertical one the more appropriate, to which the treatment of the subject better lends itself, while it is particularly pleasing in the panel shape.
At Plate 25, Illustration 4, is reproduced a view from an extremely
Tama Rivers series by Hiroshige, entitled KOKA MUTAMAGAWA,
Six Tama Rivers with Ancient Poem, this being for the Chofu
River, Musashi Province; size 9¾ x 7¼; publisher's sign
of Mura-Ichi ( = Murata-ya); censor's seal of Muramatsu. This is the
only plate of this set which has come under notice, and is apparently
from the first edition of a series mentioned by Mr. Happer as published
by O-Hira, who issued a later edition of it. This series is a combination
of figure-studies and landscape, and was issued during the Prohibition
In the panel form (measuring 14½ in. by 5 in.) there are two editions, one issued by the publisher KAWASHO, and the other by FUJI-HIKO. They follow the large series in treatment sufficiently for them to be identified from the foregoing description of the vertical and oblong views. The plate for the Koya Tama River, however, shows, instead of two pilgrims standing by the edge of the river, a temple boy standing on a bridge gazing at the waterfall as it dashes over the face of the rocks; and that for the Chofu Tama River, Musashi, a woman treading on linen in the water. (See Plate 25 for reproductions of the views for the Noji Tama River and Koya Tama River.)