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East Asia

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Akasaka, Fujikawa, Okazaki, Chiryu, Narumi

Utagawa Hiroshige, Japanese, (1797–1858)

Creation date: ca. 1850
Creation place: Japan

Other Information

Type: Woodblock
Medium and Support: Woodblock
Credit Line: Bequest of Mrs. Cora Timken Burnett
Accession Number: 1957.352
Dimensions: 13 11/16 in. x 9 1/2 in. (34.77 cm x 24.13 cm)


Robert Leicester Harmsworth, London, England ( - April 27, 1939)

J.C. Morgenthau & Co., Inc., New York, New York (April 27, 1939 - April 27, 1939)

Cora Timken Burnett, Alpne, New Jersey (April 27, 1939 - 1957)

San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California (1957 - )

Label Copy

The station of Narumi and the nearby village of Arimatsu continue to be known as a center for Shibori, or cloth-resist dyeing of textiles similar to tie-dye. Hiroshige pays homage to the craftsmen of this locale in the scrapbook print on the left of the page. When a traveler continues along the Tokaido from Narumi towards Edo, the next station would be Chiryu, which is referenced by the irises in the double-gourd-shaped vignette. The artist’s selection of the black-and-white style that simulates a stone rubbing associates the image with an ancient subject, in this case the Heian-period poet Narihira (825–880). In his classic Tale of Ise, he came to a place in Chiryu where the river split into eight branches, and a bridge was built over each one. Their banks, thick with irises, inspired him to compose a poem in which he reminisces about life with his beloved wife in Kyoto. Each line of the poem begins with one of the five syllables of the Japanese word for iris. A snowy landscape was chosen as the image for the next station at Fujikawa, with three travelers trudging up the mountain towards the village station. The print associated with the station of Okazaki is labeled only as “Old Story at Yahagi.” Viewers would have to know that Okazaki was where the young Yoshitsune (1159–1189), the celebrated samurai leader of the Minamoto clan, played the flute to attract the attention of Joruri, daughter of the wealthy owner of the inn where he was staying. Their romance became the theme of a famous ballad, and the genre of stories chanted to musical accompaniment is still known as “joruri,” after her.

Finally, Akasaka is associated with a portrait of Moronaga (1138–1192), a high-ranking official and musician of the Heian court who was exiled to the mountains, where he fell in love with a girl named Yokoe. The artist depicts him playing the lute and wearing Heian-period dress. When he was pardoned and recalled to court, he left his lute with Yokoe, who, unable to bear the separation, drowned herself. She was buried with the lute in Akasaka.
Last Updated: 1/6/2015


This object was included in the following exhibitions:

History of Oriental Art , 1/7/1978 - 3/6/1978

The Road to Tokhaido , 10/29/1978 - 11/26/1978

Look.React.Engage: The Art of Collecting at Two San Diego Museums California Center for the Arts, Escondido , 5/6/2003 - 7/20/2003

Dreams and Diversions: 250 Years of Japanese Prints from the San Diego Museum of San Diego Museum of Art , 11/6/2010 - 6/5/2011

Young Art 2015: Visualizing Music The San Diego Museum of Art , 4/11/2015 - 5/26/2015


This object has the following bibliographic references:

Illustrated Catalogue: J. C. Morgenthau & Co., Inc.. New York, New York, April 27, 1939
Page Number: 6 lot no. 9

Andreas Marks and Dr. Sonya Quintanilla. Dreams and Diversions University of Washington Press. Seattle, WA, 2010
Page Number: 111, 113, Figure Number: 91

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