Station to Station: a Historic Trail Through the Heart of Japan

Station to Station: a Historic Trail Through the Heart of Japan – The Kisokaidō route through Japan was ordained in the early 1600s by the country’s then-ruler Tokugawa Ieyasu, who decreed that staging posts be installed along the length of the arduous passage between Edo (present-day Tokyo) and Kyoto. Inns, shops, and restaurants were established to provide sustenance and lodging to weary travelers. In 1835, renowned woodblock print artist Keisai Eisen was commissioned to create a series of works to chart the Kisokaidō journey. After producing 24 prints, Eisen was replaced by Utagawa Hiroshige, who completed the series of 70 prints in 1838. Both Eisen and Hiroshige were master print practitioners. In The Sixty-Nine Stations along the Kisokaidō, we find the artists’ distinct styles as much as their shared expertise. From the busy starting post of Nihonbashi to the castle town of Iwamurata, Eisen opts for a more muted palette but excels in figuration, particularly of glamorous women, and relishes snapshots of activity along the route, from shoeing a horse to winnowing rice. Hiroshige demonstrates his mastery of landscape with grandiose and evocative scenes, whether it’s the peaceful banks of the Ota River, the forbidding Wada Pass, or a moonlit ascent between Yawata and Mochizuki. Taken as a whole, The Sixty-Nine Stations collection…

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