Hiroshige's "Fifty-Three Stages of the Tokaido"
In his "Fifty-Three Stages of the Tokaido" Hiroshige captured the myths and realities of the travel boom in nineteenth-century Japan. At this time, the notion of traveling caught hold of the popular imagination, and thousands of men, women, and children set out to sightsee and make pilgrimages, often combining both activities. The Tokaido (Eastern Sea Route) was the most heavily traveled highway in Japan. Designed as the main artery between the great cities of Edo (modern Tokyo) and Kyoto, the Tokaido traversed many sites of scenic beauty and religious importance.
The woodblock series displayed in this exhibit was extremely popular both for its subject matter and for the artist's innovative style. Hiroshige designed these prints between 1832 and 1833 after having traveled the route as part of an official procession from Edo to Kyoto. By combining diverse landscape images and scenes of everyday life, Hiroshige gives each station a distinct character. He creates a sense of space and movement that encourages the viewer to enter his images.
Journey along with Hiroshige's travelers through the artist's unique vision of the Tokaido.