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Johnson Collection of Japanese Prints

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Ando Hiroshige (aka Hiroshige), Japanese, (1797–1858)
Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido: Station 25, Kanaya, c. 1833-1834
Ink on Paper
9 in. x 15 1/2 in. (228.6 mm x 393.7 mm)

Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Period: Edo (Japan, 1615-1868)
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. James W. Johnson
Accession Number: 46.1.32

Alternate Title: Tokaido gojusan tsugi no uchi [Hoeidoban]: Kanaya, Oigawa

Singer, Robert T. and Melinda Takeuchi.  Edo  Art in Japan 1615-1868.  New Haven and London:  Yale University Press., 1998.

On mat in pencil: Jo XVI set 25, #358. Signed: Hiroshige ga. Censor's seal: Kiwame. Publisher's seal: Hoeido.

Nishiki-e, horizontal oban; colored ink on paper.

Object Description
The image, from Hiroshige's "Tokaido" series, depicts workers crossing the bank of the Oi River, which lies in the 2-mile distance between Shimada and Kanaya. The enormous volume of traffic during the Edo period produced what amounted to a virtual mobility industry, which included such workers as packhorsemen, bearers, ferrymen, and porters.  And because the Tokugawa regime restricted the movement of potentially hostile armies by not building bridges over major rivers, this workforce was joined by a host of seminaked specialists in river fording.  The lack of bridges was inconvenient to say the least; during the rainy season travelers could be stranded for almost a month waiting to cross.  Shallow rivers could be traversed on foot without assistance, but deeper ones, like the Oi River pictured here, required other means.  The price of carriage depended on the depth of the water and the mode of transport: palanquin, litter, or shoulders (the first two are pictured here).

Sometimes the price was renegotiated midstream, when the consumer had little say in the matter.  In this print the palanquin bearers moving into the deep water to the left extend their right hands to synchronize their stride, while those at the extreme right negotiate with a group ready to cross.  To emphasize the width of the riverbed, Hiroshige rendered the mountains in the background as being much taller than they are in reality.

Hoeido (Takenouchi Magohachi) seal.

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