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National Diet Library Newsletter

No. 203, December 2015

From the "Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji"

Artist: Utagawa Hiroshige I
Publisher: Tsutaya Kichizo
Published in 1858
Large-sized, nishiki-e (wood-block color print, 38×26cm),
three sheets
Owned by the National Diet Library
*Available in the National Diet Library Digital Collections

Mt. Fuji, at 3,776 meters, is Japan’s highest peak, and with its peerless presence and symmetrical beauty has inspired countless authors and artists from ancient times. These three nishiki-e are part of the "Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji," a collection of 36 illustrated landscapes featuring Mt. Fuji.

Sukiyagashi in the Eastern Capital (left)... In this view from the outer moat of Edo Castle, Mt. Fuji is visible in the pale pink sky. The scene may be a serene moment early in the morning after a snowfall. Of all the 36 illustrations, this is the only snowscape.

Suruga-cho in the Eastern Capital (middle)... A district in Edo (Nihonbashi-Muromachi today) in the New Year. The main characters are the entertainers who call door to door in celebration of the New Year. Standing behind them is the Echigoya, a prominent kimono dealer of Edo, adorned with New Year decorations such as the shimenawa (straw festoon) and kadomatsu (doorway decorations made of pine and bamboo). From the background, Mt. Fuji smiles upon the bustling celebration.

Koganei in Musashi Province (right)... The scenery is of the riverbank of the Tamagawa Aqueduct as it runs through Koganei in Musashi Province on the outskirts of Edo. The Tamagawa Aqueduct was installed to supply water to Edo, and Koganei has been noted for its beautiful cherry blossoms since then. With striking originality, Mt. Fuji is seen through a crack in the trunk of an old cherry tree.

Utagawa Hiroshige I (1797-1858) was a prominent ukiyo-e artist in the late Edo period. He made numerous exquisite works especially of famous sites, flowers and birds. In his later years, Hiroshige composed two series of nishiki-e, including the "Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji," all featuring Mt. Fuji.

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