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Utagawa Hiroshige's "53 Stations of the Tokaido"

Through this video "53 Stations of the Tokaido, Utagawa Hiroshige, Ukiyo-e" (東海道五十三次 歌川広重 浮世絵), we would like to teach you about the origins of Ukiyo-e woodblock printing and introduce some captivating Ukiyo-e art!

53 Stations of the Tokaido is a painting depicting the Tokaido, a 487.8km road that connected the cities of Kyoto and Edo.
There are 53 stations located along the road which stretches from Edo Nihonbashi to Kyoto Sanjo Ohashi.
Utagawa Hiroshige painted the beautiful scenery of the Tokaido after travelling the length of the road himself.
Ukiyo-e paintings featuring famous spots along the Tokaido are as admired now as they were hundreds of years ago.

You can take a look at these paintings throughout the video as well.
Please enjoy learning more about this traditional Japanese art!

More about Utagawa Hiroshige's "53 Stations of the Tokaido"

Ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Hiroshige published a collection of his works called "53 Stations of the Tokaido, Hoeido Edition" (保永堂版東海道五十三次, Hoeidoban Tokaido Gojuusantsugi) in 1833.
The first edition was published by two separate publishers: Hoeido and Senjudo; however, the following editions were all published solely by Hoeido.
At the time, his works were being sold at a price ranging from 12-16 sen (approximately 600-800 yen in today's currency).

At 5:26 in the video you can see Utagawa Hiroshige's "Keishi," a painting depicting Kyoto Sanjo Ohashi.
Ukiyo-e paintings of stations along the Tokaido, such as Shinagawa in Tokyo, Kawasaki in Kanagawa, and Shono in Mie, are also very popular.
Utagawa Hiroshige also painted Ukiyo-e of the stops along the Nakasendo and Kisokaido roads called "The Sixty-nine Stations of the Nakasendo" and "The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kiso Kaido".

The History of Ukiyo-e and Ukiyo-e Styles

Image of Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji
Photo:Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji

Ukiyo-e is a style of artwork that flourished in the Edo period, with paintings and prints commonly portraying beautiful women or famous kabuki actors at the time.
When we hear the word ukiyo-e, we think of colorful woodblock prints, however the majority of ukiyo-e in the Edo period would have been hand-painted.

One of the most famous ukiyo-e prints of all time is "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" (神奈川沖波裏, Kanagawa Okinamiura), one of a series of prints from "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji" (富嶽三十六景, Fugakusanjuurokkei) by the ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai.
These paintings greatly influenced future ukiyo-e artists such as Toshuusai Sharaku, Utagawa Kuniyoshi and Hishikawa Moronobu.

Summary of "53 Stations of the Tokaido"

We hope you enjoyed our introductory video of the wonderful "53 Stations of the Tokaido" and learned something new about the traditional Japanese art of ukiyo-e.
If you were impressed by the artwork in this video, we recommend purchasing a small card version for yourself online or there are also framed versions to decorate your home with.

We hope you enjoy and have a new appreciation for the beauty of ukiyo-e.
For those who would like to learn more about ukiyo-e, we recommend visiting Tokaido Hiroshige Art Museum (東海道広重美術館, Tokaido Hiroshige Bijutsukan) in Shizuoka city (静岡市, shizuokashi), Shizuoka prefecture (静岡県, shizuokaken), situated in the Tokai region with a beautiful view of Mount Fuji (富士山, fujisan).

Written By
Last Updated : Jul. 21, 2022
坂崎 なお(Nao Sakazaki)
Interested in Japanese culture and traditions! I'll be introducing lovely scenery to you!

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Learn More About the Fascinating World of the Traditional Japanese Art Form Ukiyo-e! Utagawa Hiroshige's
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