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Haneda Ferry and Benten Shrine (Haneda no Watashi Benten), No. 72 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige

Asian Art

The viewpoint here is that of a passenger (suggested by the parasol to the lower right) riding the ferry south from the village of Haneda. The lighthouse in the distance warns of the spit of land projecting from the left. Nestled among the trees at the end of the spit is a shrine to Benten, the goddess of water, music, and literature. Like so many boats in traditional Japan, the ferry is propelled by a single scull, or oar, about ten or twelve feet long. The scull was fitted along the shaft with a wooden socket that pivoted on a protruding ball mounted in the stern. A rope, looped around a peg on the scull, counterbalanced the weight of the blade and stabilized the rhythmic twisting action needed to manipulate it.

MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 8th month of 1858
    PERIOD Edo Period, Ansei Era
    DIMENSIONS Sheet: 14 1/4 x 9 1/4 in. (36.2 x 23.5 cm) Image: 13 1/4 x 8 7/8 in. (33.7 x 22.5 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS No publisher's seal visible, probably lost when left margin was trimmed.
    SIGNATURE Hiroshige-ga
    ACCESSION NUMBER 30.1478.72
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Anna Ferris
    PROVENANCE Prior to 1930, provenance not yet documented; by 1930, acquired by Anna Ferris of Summit, NJ; 1930, gift of Anna Ferris to the Brooklyn Museum.
    Provenance FAQ
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION This unusual image shows a ferryman propelling a scull from the fishing village of Haneda, across the mouth of the Tama River. The ferryman's hairy limbs have provoked varied responses from viewers. The scull, depicted here, was some ten or twelve feet long, fitted with a wooden socket that pivoted on a protruding ball in the stern. To counterbalance the weight of the blade and to stabilize the rhythmic action needed to manipulate it, boatmen used a rope looped around a peg, seen falling vertically at center. In the distance, a lighthouse warns of the land projecting from the left. Nestled among the trees is the Haneda Benten Shrine (Benton is the goddess of water and beauty). Today this area is marked by Benten Bridge at the entrance to Haneda International Airport. The shrine itself was moved to the west when the airport was expanded in 1948.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858). Haneda Ferry and Benten Shrine (Haneda no Watashi Benten), No. 72 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 8th month of 1858. Woodblock print, Sheet: 14 1/4 x 9 1/4 in. (36.2 x 23.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.72 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 30.1478.72_PS20.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 30.1478.72_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2023
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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