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Asakusa River, Great Riverbank, Miyato River, No. 60 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige (Ando)

Asian Art

The point of view here is looking north from just under Ryogoku Bridge. Hiroshige provides a characteristically indirect depiction of one of the most interesting summer customs associated with the bridge, the ablutions of the Mount Oyama pilgrims. Instead of showing the spot under the bridge where they rinsed themselves before setting out for the sacred mountain, this view features pilgrims returning from the ablution site. The bonten, or huge assemblages of ritual paper strips dominating the composition, were used by the ascetics who spread the Oyama cult. The title of the print may seem confusing, since Asakusa River, Great Riverbank, and Miyato River all refer to the same river—the Sumida.

MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 7th month of 1857
    PERIOD Edo Period, Ansei Era
    DIMENSIONS Sheet: 14 5/16 x 9 5/16 in. (36.4 x 23.7 cm) Image: 13 x 8 1/2 in. (33 x 21.6 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS No publihser's seal visible, probably lost when left margin was trimmed. Date seal and censor seal in top margin.
    SIGNATURE Hiroshige-ga
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 30.1478.60
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Anna Ferris
    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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    CAPTION Utagawa Hiroshige (Ando) (Japanese, 1797-1858). Asakusa River, Great Riverbank, Miyato River, No. 60 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 7th month of 1857. Woodblock print, Sheet: 14 5/16 x 9 5/16 in. (36.4 x 23.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.60
    IMAGE overall, 30.1478.60_IMLS_SL2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "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 A view of one of the more interesting summer customs associated with the Ryogoku Bridge, the ablutions of the Mount Oyama pilgrims. The pilgrims rinsed themselves in the waters of the Sumida as an act of ritual purification before journeying to the sacred Mount Oyama, some forty miles to the south. The ritual was designed to greet the summer by purging the noxious spirits of the season. This view shows two groups of pilgrims returning by boat from the ablution site to the boat landing at Yanagibashi, where the Kanda River flows into the Sumida (suggested by the horizontal bank of deep blue). The yamabushi or mountain ascetics were responsible for the spread of the Oyama cult through the Kanto region, recruiting groups of pilgrims to climb the mountain. As they crossed the river, the pilgrims chanted ritual phrases and after their ablutions would proceed through the streets of downtown Edo, distributing the gohei (ritual paper strips). There is confusion regarding the title of this print because Asukagawa, Okawa and Mitayogawa are all alternate names for the Sumida River. (The title of the print was changed in later printings to "In Boats at Ryogoku with a Distant View of Asakusa.")
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