Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido: Station 48, Seki, c. 1833-1834
Ink on Paper
8 13/16 in. x 13 11/16 in. (223.84 mm x 347.66 mm)
On mat in pencil: Jo XX set 48 n.399, Hiroshige, Seki, Station 48. Censor's seal: Kiwame.
Nishiki-e, horizontal oban; colored ink on paper.
Color woodblock print with an image of men preparing for departure from Daimyo.
Seki was situated on the Tokaido Road at the foot of the Suzuka Mountains, where two roads branched off to Ise and Yamato. The governmental barrier or checkpoint (seki) situated there in former times gave the town its name.
Hiroshige depicts a daimyo retinue departing their lodgings, or honjin, in early morning. Honjin were officially designated for exclusive use of daimyo and imperial officials; the rest of their retinue stayed at ordinary inns. When a daimyo stayed in a honjin, he put up draperies with the family crest around the entrances and hung a wooden plaque mentioning his stay, official title and name. For security and sanitary reasons, a daimyo did not use the accessories of the honjin. He took his own bedding, food, and utensils, and used only a few rooms and the kitchen, and ate only meals prepared by his staff.
Daimyo followed this arrangement in all the honjin in which they stayed during a journey. Thus their staffs had to make cumbersome preparations: they reserved and inspected the honjin beforehand, and had to arrive ahead of their lord to set up his room and cook his meal. They were deployed as if on a field of battle, and thus these lodgings were called honjin, or main camp.
In this print, the crested draperies cover the entrances of the two buildings; another drape secludes an outdoor area where some of the retinue camped overnight. The man in the formal kimono in the first building is the owner of the honjin. Lance carriers are already dressed for the days walk. It is still dark; lanterns illuminate the front yard.
(ref. “Hokusai and Hiroshige,” p.211 )
Hoeido (Takenouchi Magohachi) seal.
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