The ‘Meisho Edo Hyakkei’ or ‘One Hundred Views of Edo” (名所江戸百景) is a collection of ink print drawings that were done by Utagawa Hiroshige (歌川広重). Some of Hiroshige’s prints are internationally well known. For instance, the ‘Kameido Umeyashiki’ (亀戸梅屋舗) or ‘Plum Park in Kameido was copied by Vincent van Gogh. That meant that a European artist actually drew inspiration from a Japanese artist!
The ink print titled ‘Matsuchiyama Sanyabori Yakei” (真乳山山谷堀夜景) or ‘Night View of Matsuchiyama and the Sanya Canal’ is the only print drawing to depict a large human figure. Most of his prints display various aspects of the environment like rivers, trees and hills. Some scholars suspect that this print was a depiction of his lover. Perhaps that’s why her image fills a large portion of this print, which was quite unprecedented for Hiroshige’s prints.
The print titled ‘Suidobashi Surugadai’ (水道橋駿河台) means ‘Suidō Bridge and the Surugadai Quarter’. This is one of Hiroshige’s more famous prints. At first glance it looks as if a live fish is thrashing about, but it is actually a carp streamer that is fluttering in the wind. These carp streamers are called Koinobori (鯉幟) and are typically flown on Tango no Sekku (端午の節句), which is held on May 5th. The carp streamers represent the desire of Japanese parents to raise healthy and strong sons.
The ‘Ohashi Atake no Yudashi’ (大はしあたけの夕立) or ‘Sudden Shower over Shin Ōhashi bridge and Atake’ is considered to be a masterpiece. Some even say that this is the greatest print ever produced by Hiroshige. Even Vincent van Gogh was known to have copied elements from this print to his own drawings. The reason why this print is so treasured is because the depiction of rain is difficult to portray without blurring the image of the print.
The ‘Haneda no watashi Benten no yashiro’ (はねたのわたし弁天の社) is also known as ‘The Ferry at Haneda and the Benten Shrine’. If you look at this print, you can see the arms and legs or the ferry rower. Hiroshige’s intention was to create the perspective of the passenger of the boat. So as you look at this print you are looking towards the river from the viewpoint of a passenger on the ferryboat. That’s really kind of cool, isn’t it? No wonder Hiroshige is such a respected artist!