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Johnson Collection of Japanese Prints

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Ando Hiroshige (aka Hiroshige), Japanese, (1797–1858)
One Hundred Famous Views of Edo: 107, Plain at Susaki, Fukagawa, 100,000 tsubo, 1857
Ink on Paper
13 1/4 in. x 8 3/4 in. (336.55 mm x 222.25 mm)


Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Creation Place: Asia, Japan
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. James W. Johnson
Accession Number: 46.1.106


Alternate Title: Meisho Edo hyakkei: Fukagawa Susaki, jutmantsubo

Bibliography
Smith II, Henry D. and Amy G. Poster.  Hiroshige 1797-1858  One Hundred Famous Views of Edo.  New York:  George Braziller, Inc., 1986.

Marks
On verso in pencil: Johnson XI 88. On mat in pencil: Hiroshige 100 Views of Edo, Falcon over Fuman Plain at Suzaki, Fukagawa 46.1.106 Johnson XI 88. Censor's seal: Aratame and date seal.

Medium
Nishiki-e, vertical oban; colored ink on paper.

Object Description
Color woodblock oban tat-e print with an image of a hawk sailing through the blue sky above a Susaki plain.

This dramatic design has consistently been one of the most favored of the entire series, conventionally ranked with the rain at Ohashi and the foxfires at Oji as one of the "best three."  Apart from the novel and daring conception, the content is universal in its appeal, much like the rain at Ohashi.  Even those who have never seen a golden eagle can at least relate to the image, since it is a bird widely distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere and has served as an icon of power and authority in many different countries.

The particular appeal of the design lies in the contrast of the powerful embracing form of the eagle as it prepares to dive for prey and the desolate waste of the wintry marshes below, extending into the distance to the familiar snow-capped form of Mount Tsukuba.  The back of the eagle is printed in glinting mica, and the three visible claws are coated in a shiny gloss (nikawazuri), enhancing the contrast with the white background.   As in other views with no figures, the human presence is still felt - in the roofs huddled to the left, in the poles of the lumberyards beyond, and above all in the lone wooden bucket floating at the edge of the bay, surrounded by the dots of water birds on whom the eagle seems to have its eye.

The barren landscape depicted here certainly does not qualify as a famous place, but the Fukagawa Susaki of the title was very well known.  It was a spit of land along Edo Bay that had a popular Benten shrine at the tip (much as at Shinagawa in pl. 83) and that offered excellent shellfish-gathering at low tide in the spring.  Hiroshige had depicted Fukagawa Susaki often before in his views of Edo - exactly thirty-eight times by the count of Ishii Kendo, tying with Ueno for sixth place in order of frequency.  Hiroshige's first view of Fukagawa Susaki appeared in his famous Toto meisho series of 1831, showing the shrine in snow, looking east to the "first sun" (hatsuhi) rising on New Year's Day - a sight for which the place was noted.  Hiroshige curiously does not offer any direct view of Fukagawa Susaki in the One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, so that this particular print may perhaps be considered a substitute, linked by the theme of snow.

The view here, then, is not of but rather from Fukagawa Susaki, which lay southeast of the Kiba lumberyards (of which there is a hint in the poles to the left).  The view is to the northeast, toward the Jumantsubo of the title, a large tract of land that corresponds to the present Senda and Dengo-ku 2-3 chome in Koto Ward.  This area was reclaimed from the marshes in 1723-1726 and named after its approximate area of "one hundred thousand tsubo" (about eighty acres).  At the time of this print, it was occupied in part by one of the suburban daimyo estates that were common in this area.

It is perhaps superfluous to ask what a mountain bird like the golden eagle is doing here at the edge of Edo Bay; Hiroshige, after all, was not a naturalist.  This kind of displacement does raise the possibility, however, that some sort of symbolism is intended by the eagle, which happens to be the deity worshipped at Washi Daimyojin Shrine, site of the popular Torinomachi Festival. This connection, whether intended by Hiroshige or not, is certainly plausible: the Torinomachi Festival occurred in the winter and was linked with prayers for a prosperous new year, a theme that connects Fukagawa Susaki as well. Washi Daimyojin, the eagle god, was also connected with the Bodhisattva Myoken, deification of the Big Dipper, which is perhaps suggested in this northward view.

Publisher
Uoei seal (Uo-ya Eikichi).

Related Objects
Same as 54.1.44, except color.

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