Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido: Station 29, Mitsuke, c. 1833-1834
Ink on Paper
8 13/16 in. x 13 7/8 in. (22.38 cm. x 35.24 cm.)
On mat in pencil: Jo XVII 29. Signed: Hiroshige ga. Censor's seal: Kiwame. Seal of publisher: Hoeido.
Nishiki-e, horizontal oban; colored ink on paper.
Color woodblock print from Hiroshige's Tokaido Road series. Mitsuke is now included in the modern city of Iwata, in Shizuoka prefecture. Mitsuke was reached from Fukuroi by crossing the Tenryu River, which rises near Lake Suwa (Nagano prefecture), passes through Totomi, and empties into the ocean a few miles east of Hamamatsu. Famous for its rapids, the river could be crossed only on ferryboats, not by bearers or porters on foot.
While Hiroshige depicted the crossing of the Abe and the Oi rivers from a great distance at a high bird's-eye overview, here he creates a close-up scene of the labor of the crossing. A huge sandbar divides the Tenryu into the separate channels. In the foreground, in one channel, is a ferry, with only half its length shown and positioned diagonally. Two ferrymen one dressed in green the other in purple, wait for their passengers. The strong horizontal elements of the two boats are interrupted by the compositional device of the long pole that the seated ferryman holds straight up. It recalls the similar counterbalance of the bird-catcher's pole in a ferry scene by Hokusai (Viewing Sunset Over the Ryogoku Bridge from the Ommaya Embankment).
In the farther channel, several boats ply back and forth, and the travelers on the sand await their turn. It is obviously an early morning. The distant mountain is enveloped by mist depicted in flattened gray shapes that enhance the gentle mood. The use of the suppressed silhouettes of the groves and the mountain in the background is similar to effects Hiroshige used in the rain scene in "Driving Rain at Shono," (Station 46).
Hoeido (Takenouchi Magohachi) seal.
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