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Asuma Shrine and the Entwined Camphor, No. 31 in One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige (Ando)

Asian Art

It is dusk on a spring day. A flock of birds crosses the dimming northeast sky as two boats pass each other below on the canal. The surface of the path to the Azuma Shrine is bathed in yellow, reflecting the late afternoon sun. Across the small bridge at the entrance to the shrine is the giant split trunk of the sacred tree known as the Entwined Camphor. The tree recalls an ancient legend about the mythical lovers Prince Yamato Takeru and Princess Ototachibana.

MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 7th month of 1857
    PERIOD Edo Period, Ansei Era
    DIMENSIONS Image: 13 3/8 x 8 3/4 in. (34 x 22.2 cm) Sheet: 14 5/16 x 9 5/16 in. (36.4 x 23.7 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Publisher: Shitaya Uo Ei
    SIGNATURE Hiroshige-Hitsu
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 30.1478.31
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Anna Ferris
    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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    CAPTION Utagawa Hiroshige (Ando) (Japanese, 1797-1858). Asuma Shrine and the Entwined Camphor, No. 31 in One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 7th month of 1857. Woodblock print, Image: 13 3/8 x 8 3/4 in. (34 x 22.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.31
    IMAGE overall, 30.1478.31_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2006
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Two boats pass each other on the North Jukkengawa Canal in the late afternoon sun. Between the shrine pennants are the darkened rice paddies on the left and a lotus pond on the right. Across the small bridge are the precincts of Azuma Shrine where a group of people are looking up at the giant split trunk of the sacred tree, known as the "Entwined Camphor" (Renri no kusu). Beyond to the left stand the shrine buildings. The legend of the "Entwined Camphor" goes back to Prince Yamato Takeru's journey to conquer the barbarians and wishing to cross the straits across the entrance to Edo Bay, where he was confronted by the angry god of the sea, his consort, Princess Ototachibana sacrificed herself to the sea to calm the waves and the prince was able to continue on his mission. Days later, the princess' comb washed up on the beach and was enshrined here in a small burial mound. The prince took a pair of camphor chop-sticks and buried them in the mound and they grew together into the paired tree seen here split into male and female trunks above. The prince gave the name, Azuma, for this place (Ao tsuma) and hence became a conventional term for this area of Japan. The entwined camphor survived until World War II when it was destroyed in a fire-bombing. Recently, a new pair was planted, apparently, in the hope that they might grow together as one, as before.
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (86%)
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