Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido: Station 23, Fujieda,, c. 1833-1852
Ink on Paper
8 7/8 in. x 14 in. (22.54 cm x 35.56 cm)
Signed Hiroshige ga, with a red seal. Publisher's seal (Hoeido) and Kiwame censer's seal.
Colored ink on paper; woodblock print; oban yoko-e.
Japanese color woodblock print from Hiroshige's Tokaido Road series. Hiroshige depicts common activities of travelers and laborers at the station of Fujieda, which is about 4 miles from Okabe. In front of a clerk seated at a building, laborers unload luggage from horses; others try to lift heavy packages; some wipe sweat from their bodies and some are talking to a traveler.
The transportation system of the Edo period could provide laborers and horses for hire to transport baggage or people. They worked as relay teams, going back and forth between two stations. Generally travelers walked, but when they were unwell and needed a palanquin, or had a lot of baggage and needed a pack horse, at each station they could hire palanquins, bearers, or mounts and grooms. The groom led the hired horse and accompanied the traveler to the next station, where he acquired a new man and horse for the trip to the subsequent station, while the other groom and mount prepared to return to the previous one, ready to transport any traveler going the other way. Travelers on government duty, by presenting their official certificate with its red seal (shuinjo), paid no fee for using a man and horse, while commoners paid a fixed fee for these services. A more comfortable but more expensive way to travel overland was in a palanquin. The system may have been cumbersome at times, but in worked in an orderly fashion to facilitate the flow of people and cargo.
At the top center of this print, beyond the line of travelers and laborers, are two palanquins and a horse, ready for hire.
Ref. "Hokusai and Hiroshige," p.186.
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