- Museum number
Object: Onmayagashi yori Ryogoku-bashi yuhi-mi 御厩川岸より両国橋夕陽見 (Viewing the Sunset, from Onmaya Embankment to Ryogoku Bridge)
Series: Fugaku sanjurokkei 冨嶽三十六景 (Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji)
Colour woodblock oban print. Ferryboat setting out from Honjo to cross the Sumida River to Asakusa; passengers looking towards Mt Fuji on horizon; pleasure boats gathering at Ryogoku Bridge downstream; trees around government rice warehouses on far bank to right. Inscribed, signed and sealed.
- Production date
- 1832 (acc. to Keyes and Morse 2015)
Height: 24.60 centimetres
Width: 37.80 centimetres
- Curator's comments
The ferryboat has just set out from Ishiwara-cho in the Honjo district on the east bank of the Sumida River to cross to Miyoshi-cho in the Asakusa district on the west bank. Miyoshi-cho was right on the river at Onmaya-gashi ('Stable Embankment'), so-called because official stables had once been located there. Ryogoku bridge spans the river further downstream, where pleasure boats gather, and the trees on the far bank, to the right, surround the government rice warehouses at Kuramae.
Since at least the time of the painter Hanabusa Itcho (1652-1724) ferryboats were a subject that allowed the artist unusual freedom to throw together people of different professions and classes. Here the passengers are mainly looking away from us over the open water towards the evening silhouette of Mt Fuji, turned hats, heads and a 'snake's-eye' umbrella encouraging us to do the same. But we can still make out a samurai (who travelled free), pedlars, a nursing mother, a blind man, a monk (or nun), a bird-catcher with his long, lime-covered pole and, of course, the boatman. In most impressions, as here, the square red publisher's seal and round red censorship seal are all but invisible in the bottom right corner against the dark blue water, but Nishimuraya, the publisher, has made sure that his trademark appears again in white reserve on the green bundle carried on the back of a standing male passenger.
The slight curve in the roof of the small foreground building prepares us, directed by the line of the oar, to admire the curve of Fuji. The rising arc of Ryogoku bridge is echoed almost exactly in the dipping arc of the side of the ferry, the two arranged in parallel planes. A Fuji-shaped equilateral triangle can be imagined between the prow and stern of the boat and tip of the bird-catcher's pole, which now starts to look like a mast and suggests a much more intrepid sea-faring voyage for the humble ferry. The river-current starts to look like waves. And - of course it has to be deliberate - a man and a woman both lean over the sides of their respective boats in similar poses to wet cloths in the river, she busy with the washing and strenuously wringing hers, he smiling and maybe just trailing his in the water for idle amusement. Anyone living in Edo could pleasurably have imagined themselves in that situation.
This looks to be a very early impression. Another, later, impression in the British Museum collection (1937.7-10.0140) omits the wide gradated band of dark blue beneath the waves at the bottom, and wipes away the blue of the waves in the bottom right corner to reveal clearly the red seals.
'Ukiyo-e taikei, vol. 13: Fugaku sanju-rokkei', Tokyo, Shueisha, 1975 (text by Kobayashi Tadashi), no. 22.
'Meihin soroimono ukiyo-e, vol. 8: Hokusai I', Tokyo, Gyosei, 1991 (text by Nagata Seiji), no. 12.
Julia White, 'et al.', 'Hokusai and Hiroshige: Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts', Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 (commentaries by Yoko Woodson), no. 27.
Binyon, Laurence. 'A Catalogue of Japanese and Chinese Woodcuts in the British Museum'. London, British Museum, 1916, [Hokusai] no. 119.
The Onmaya ferry has just set out from Ishiwari-chō in Honjo on the far, east bank of the Sumida river. The government’s stables had once been located in Miyoshi-chō on the opposite, west bank of the river, and the area came to be called Onmayagashi (‘Stable embankment’). The disparate passengers with their varied loads are generally looking away from us, admiring Fuji silhouetted against the evening sky, just above Ryōgoku bridge. Hokusai skilfully captures the psychology of strangers brought together, who studiously ignore one another. The woman doing the washing in her boat is contrasted with the man in the ferry who idly trails his hand towel in the water.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2001, 11 May-29 Jul, BM Japanese Galleries, '100 Views of Mount Fuji'
2017 8 July - 13 Aug, London, BM, G35, Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave
2017 6 Oct - 19 Nov, Osaka, Abeno Harukas Art Museum
2022 16 Apr-12 Jun, Tokyo, Suntory Museum of Art, Hokusai from the British Museum
- Acquisition date
- Registration number