Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido: Station 1, Nihonbashi
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Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido: Station 1, Nihonbashi, c. 1833-1834
Ink on Paper
8 9/16 in. x 13 1/2 in. (217.49 mm x 342.9 mm)
Later state omits clouds at the horizon and adds more people to the scene.
On verso of paper backing, in ink: "Duplicated by Johnson's Jo XIV-1, Nihonbashi - better than this." and label: Bai II 43.
Nishiki-e, horizontal oban; colored ink on paper.
Color woodblock print from Hiroshige's Tokaido Road series. In 1602 the Tokaugawa shogunate erected this arched wooden bridge to span the Nihonbashi River, one of the many small tributaries that empty into the Sumida River. The district around this bridge became one of the most vital commecial and transportation centers in Edo. Stores, wholesalers, storage buildings, fish markets and houses lined the riverbanks, to which commercial goods were transported by boats. Two major highways - the Tokaido Road on the Pacific Ocean side, and the Kiso Road that traversed rugged mountainous regions - converged and diverged here, connecting Edo and Kyoto.
At present the Nihonbashi district is still an important commercial center filled with banks, shops, wholesalers, and department stores, but it has yielded its prestige as the center of transportation to the Tokyo Station area.
This scene occurs around four a.m., when the wooden gates of the district were opened to early morning traffic. The sun brightens the horizon and the sky. A daimyo and his retinue cross the bridge to start their long journey of over 300 miles out of Edo down the Tokaido Road. The procession is led by two men carrying a garment box (hasamibako) on a long pole across their shoulders, and two lance-carriers, their weapons ceremonially wrapped with feathers. At left, fishmongers coming from the fish market have just finished crossing the bridge, surrounded by dancers, flower vendors, and children. Intent on their pursuits they congregate at the foot of the bridge, seemingly indifferent to the approaching daimyo procession which, by contrast, marches with military precision toward the milling crowd of commoners. If one were to read this scene symbolically, it might be in terms of a contrast between the structure and hierarchy of the old aristocratic order and the vitality of the new and vigorous merchant class.
Hiroshige published two versions of the station at Nihon Bridge. This version shows a much larger crowd of people, a blue rather than red horizon, and red rather than blue sky, and an absence of the clouds seen in the alternate "Morning View of Nihon Bridge." The building in the left border of the view is more defined, as well.
Ref. "Hokusai and Hiroshige," p.161.
Hoeido (Takenouchi Magohachi).
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