Hiroshige’s Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido - In 1832, Hiroshige first traveled from his home in Edo (Tokyo) to Kyoto along the Tokaido road. The journey was an eye opening and life changing experience for him. As an urban man of Edo he had experienced life mainly in the capital. He immediately returned to Edo after the trip and began his masterwork woodblock series from the sketches he had made on his journey. Hiroshige's Tokaido prints are an opportunity to be transported back in time to see this world as Hiroshige did in the shadow of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
The Sakawa River at Odawara - Wonderful Hiroshige view of a daimyo's palanquin being carried across the Sakawa River at Odawara. The tiny figures are dwarfed by the expansive landscape and the large mountains in the distance, the rooftops of the village and a castle visible at the foot of the hills. This is one of four variations of the same design created by Hiroshige for the Odawara station, each with different numbers of porters and travelers at the river crossing and hard or soft contours on the distant mountains. Lovely shading in the water and sky.
Chirimen-gami-e - This is an unusual "crepe" print, known in Japanese as "chirimen-gami-e," which literally means "compressed thread paper print." After the woodblock was printed in the traditional manner, the print went through a mechanical process that added a crinkled texture while also reducing the size considerably. The print was dampened and layered with a cardboard mold incised with parallel lines, then wrapped around an upright wooden post on a lever press. An opening in the lever fit over the post, and when pressed down over post, compressed the paper into the incised lines on the cardboard mold. This process would be repeated as many as 10 or more times, with the print slightly reoriented each time to achieve a uniform, highly textured, crinkled appearance similar to crepe paper.
Although examples are known from as early as 1800 in Edo, chirimen-gami-e became popular with the Western market during the Meiji era. Crepe prints were often used for books, especially for children's books as the creping process made the paper less likely to tear. Takejiro Hasegawa was the best-known publisher of chirimen-bon or crepe paper books, producing many titles in English and other European languages for the foreign market starting in 1885. An interesting example of a specialized Japanese print technique that would make a fun addition to a collection.
Artist - Hiroshige (1797 - 1858)
Image Size - 7 3/8" x 10 7/8"
Condition - The print with excellent color and detail. A nice sense of age. Please see photos for details.