Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido: Station 8, Hiratsuka
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Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido: Station 8, Hiratsuka, c. 1833-1834
Ink on Paper
8 15/16 in. x 13 7/8 in. (22.7 cm. x 35.24 cm.)
On mat in pencil: Johnson collection XV set 8, 384, "Path through a Paddy Field." Censor's seal: Kiwame.
Nishiki-e, horizontal oban; colored ink on paper.
Color woodblock print with an image of peasants on a path called Nawate Road, in Hiratsuka.
Hiratsuka is located 7 miles from Fujisawa. Although, like cat. 111, this composition also employs a semicircular scheme with the main road and a prominent mountain in the distance, this design is far simpler, but livelier and more interesting. The round mountain at center background is Mount Koma. And the cone of Mount Fuji appears behind it. The half-naked runner, a hikyaku (flying foot) whose job is to deliver the mail as fast as possible, carries his mail packet on his shoulder. Returning from carrying a traveler, two bearers with their empty palanquin on their backs give way to the runner.
The two pine trees opposite each other at the side of the road indicate the presence of a milestone that directs travelers and displays government notices.
In the Edo period the communication system was well developed. The hikyaku provided different classes for the bakufu, the daimyo, and the commoners. The bakufu's system, the most important, transported government mail, documents, and goods on a fast schedule; runners covered the distance between Edo and Kyoto in sixty hours. The commoners' private mail service was operated by merchants and employed runners and a fee system. This class of service covered the distance between Edo and Kyoto in about a week.
(ref. “Hokusai and Hiroshige,” p. 170)
Hoeido (Takenouchi Magohachi) seal.
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