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Pine of Success and Oumayagashi, Asakusa River, No. 61 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige (Ando)

Asian Art

It is a clear, starlit evening on the Asakusa River. In the foreground is the famous Pine of Success, hanging out over the river and the two passing boats of the Oumayagashi Ferry.

There is a subtle eroticism in this night scene. Can you locate the suggestive clues? Enclosed in its own private space to the lower left is a roofed pleasure boat. Two pairs of clogs rest in the bow, hinting at a tryst on board, and barely perceptible is the faint silhouette of a woman's head and shoulders behind the lowered blinds. One commentator has proposed that the agitated waves below are similarly suggestive.

MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 8th month of 1856
    PERIOD Edo Period, Ansei Era
    DIMENSIONS Sheet: 14 1/4 x 9 5/16 in. (36.2 x 23.7 cm) Image: 13 3/8 x 8 3/4 in. (33.9 x 22.2 cm)
    MARKINGS No publisher's seal visible, probably lost when left margin was trimmed. Date seal and censor seal in top margin.
    SIGNATURE Hiroshige-ga
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 30.1478.61
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Anna Ferris
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION This scene shows the Ouayabashi Ferry, its name taken from the landing (not shown here- see print 105 of the series) on the Sumida River. The distant horizon is bright yellow, indicating the warmth of an early summer starlit evening. The pine tree shown here, one of the more famous, is the Pine of Success, at the end of the middle pier of the Asakusa rice granary. At the lower left is a roofed pleasure boat. Looking closely, it is possible to make out the silhouette of a woman's head and shoulders behind the lowered blind; the under printing of the silhouette is in a lighter green than that of the blind itself. A moral ordinance had prohibited lowering the green blinds of the pleasure boat except for poor weather, but this did not appear to be strictly enforced by the time this print appeared in 1856.
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