Utagawa Hiroshige Japanese

Not on view

Among the several series Hiroshige designed following the great success of his first Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō, one of the finest is that published in the early Kaei era (1848–1854), popularly known as the "Gyosho (Cursive style) Tōkaidō" after the calligraphic style of the titles. Here, the mountain pass at Okabe, the twenty-second station on the road in the mountains west of Suruga Bay is depicted in a style that might also be considered abbreviated. Brilliant colors predominate, reminiscent of depictions of this locale, Mount Utsu, by Rimpa artists based on an episode from Chapter 9 in the poetic classic Tales of Ise. Hiroshige replaced the ascetic wandering on the ivy-covered mountain pass of the Heian Period tale with the robust traveller of Edo who eagerly approaches a roadside tea house. There the proprietress, baby on her back, manages a bustling wayside business. A placard advertises the local speciality, Utsunoyama Dango, rice balls served with a sweet bean sauce, which can be seen hanging from the rafters, skewered on sticks or strung in circles.

Today, these same local products are sold on the Tōkaidō railroad as the highspeed train whizzes by this once isolated, long famous mountain pass.

Okabe, Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, Tokyo (Edo) 1797–1858 Tokyo (Edo)), Woodblock print; ink and color on paper, Japan

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.