Utagawa Hiroshige, 'Suidō Bridge and Surugadai' (Suidōbashi Surugadai), a colour woodblock print

Japan, AD 1857

From the series 'One Hundred Famous Views of Edo' (Meisho Edo hyakkei)

The kites are for the Boy's Festival on the 5th day of the fifth month (mid-summer). The leaping carp is a symbol of manly perseverance, and are shown here in exaggerated scale, seeming artificially stuck into the landscape. They rise higher than the samurai district of Surugadai across Suidō Bridge, higher than Edo Castle (left) and higher even than Mt Fuji itself.

The series 'One Hundred Famous Views of Edo' of 1856-58 (which actually overran to 118 designs), was the final, crowning achievement to Hiroshige's career. Twenty-one of the views included Mt Fuji seen on the distant horizon and three more featured the artificial hills constructed in various locations in Edo (modern Tokyo) as 'mini-Fujis' by members of the Fuji-kō (the Fuji cult). This was a self-help confraternity (brotherhood) which encouraged pilgrimage, rituals and prayers devoted to Fuji. One account of 1825 claimed as many as 70,000 devotees. The mini-Fujis were artificial Fuji-shaped hills set in parks which allowed the infirm (or lazy) to engage in a substitute pilgrimage - or simply to enjoy them as a kind of theme park.

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Utagawa Hiroshige, 'Suidō Bridge and Surugadai' (Suidōbashi Surugadai), a colour woodblock print

Utagawa Hiroshige, 'Suido Bridge and Surugadai', Japan, AD 1857

 

More information

Bibliography

T. Clark, 100 views of Mount Fuji (London, The British Museum Press, 2001)

Dimensions

Height: 360.000 mm
Width: 240.000 mm

Museum number

Asia JA 1948.4-10.072

JCF6974

Gift of Henry Bergen

Location

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