Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido: Station 21, Maruko, c. 1833-1834
Ink on Paper
8 15/16 in. x 13 15/16 in. (227.01 mm x 354.01 mm)
Singer, Robert T. and Melinda Takeuchi. Edo Art in Japan 1615-1868. New Haven and London: Yale University Press., 1998.
On mat in pencil: Tokaido set no. 21 "Mariko Teahouse" 10/94, exhibited Nov-Dec 1987 Clark Museum. Signed: Hiroshige ga. Censor's seal: Kiwame.
Nishiki-e, horizontal oban; colored ink on paper.
Color woodblock print from Hiroshige's Tokaido Road series, with an image of a tea hut, alongside a road.
One of the prominent aspects of Edo-period travel was the opportunity to sample the country's astonishing diversity of local products. Nearly every region had its distinctive specialty or "famous product" (meibutsu). Mariko's specialty, tororojiru, is usually translated as "yam soup," but tororo, a marvelous seasonal delicacy, is a white potato that when grated raw and added to broth is incomparably subtle, satisfying, and nourishing. The sign outside the teahouse advertises this soup and other fare "sake sakana (sake and fish), which are on skewers seen in a holder at the back of the store. In addition to its gustatory reputation, the station at Mariko possessed literary distinction: it was immortalized by the poet Matsuo Basho: "Young leaves of plum / And at the Mariko way station / A broth of tororojiru."
Influenced by Basho's poem, Hiroshige incorporated the motif of plum, which he showed as blossoming, thus setting the season as early spring. To this mood he added another note of lyricism, that magical, liminal time before sunset, suggested by the peach-colored glow in the sky. The print extends to the viewer a powerful invitation to empathize with all of the characters in the scene, from the satisfied traveler resuming his journey, to the two hungry diners, to the rustic serving woman, a child on her back, who represents stability in the transitory world of the traveler.
Hoeido (Takenouchi Magohachi) seal.
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