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Ushimachi, Takanawa, No. 81 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige

Asian Art

This view depicts the fringe of Edo, ragged and unkempt, just outside of the Takanawa Gate, which marked the formal southern entrance to the city. Cast-off objects litter the road, adding a poetic touch. The watermelon rinds provide a sense of the summer season, while the discarded straw sandal evokes a long journey that has finally ended here, at the gateway to Edo. The huge section of an oxcart to the right marks the place as Ushimachi, or "Oxtown," the popular name for Shiba Kuruma-chō, which lay on both sides of the Takanawa Gate.

MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 4th month of 1857
    PERIOD Edo Period, Ansei Era
    DIMENSIONS Sheet: 14 3/16 x 9 1/4 in. (36 x 23.5 cm) Image: 13 3/8 x 8 3/4 in. (34 x 22.2 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Publisher: Shitaya Uo Ei
    SIGNATURE Hiroshige-ga
    ACCESSION NUMBER 30.1478.81
    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 view is situated at the periphery to Edo, just outside of Takanawa Gate, in Ushimachi (Oxtown), the popular name for Shiba Kuruma-cho, which lay on both sides of the Takanawa Gate. The delicate arch of the rainbow and the cartwheel at the right correspond to the curve of the coastline. The litter on the road, the watermelon rinds and discarded straw sandal, offer a comic sentiment to the scene. Ushimachi was founded in 1634 when oxen were brought to Edo to assist in the construction of Zozoji Temple. In 1639 the oxcart drivers were given the land here for a permanent settlement. In the Tokugawa Period, oxcarts were used for heavy construction projects and were permitted only in the cities of Kyoto, Edo, and Nagoya. One rarely saw oxcarts in the streets of the city, which were strictly regulated by the "bakufu," and in any event, waterways were more efficient modes of urban transport. There are only three other wheeled vehicles in this series: the festival float in print 51 and the handcarts in prints 54 and 114. The low gray platforms in Edo Bay in the distance are the Odaiba; this is the first of three views of the Odaiba in this series. The Odaiba were constructed in 1853-54 to defend Edo from foreign attack.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858). Ushimachi, Takanawa, No. 81 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 4th month of 1857. Woodblock print, Sheet: 14 3/16 x 9 1/4 in. (36 x 23.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.81 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 30.1478.81_PS20.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 30.1478.81_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2023
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