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Shinagawa Susaki, No. 83 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige

Asian Art

In contrast with the subtleties of the preceding work is the straightforward topographical view in this print. The brightly lit second-story room to the lower left is in one of the same Shinagawa brothels. The center of attention, however, is the small shrine nestled among the pine trees and accented by its bright red torii (gate) and lantern. Dedicated to Benten, the goddess of water, music, and literature, this shrine was known as Susaki because of its location at the end of a narrow spit of land, or susaki, that extended out from the mouth of the Meguro River here where it emptied into Edo Bay. The symbolic function of a Benten shrine as protector of rivers is nicely expressed in this view.

MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 8th 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 30.1478.83
    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 The primary focal point here is the small Benten shrine, known as the Susaki Shrine, which is situated among the pine trees with its bright red torii and lantern. It is located on the narrow piece of land (susaki) extending out from the mouth of the Meguro River, which emptied into Edo Bay. Benten originated in India as the goddess Sarasvati, the personification of the sacred river of the same name. In Chinese Buddhism, Benten (properly Benzaiten) was first worshipped in Japan as the patroness of learning and the arts. In the Tokugawa period, she became more of a goddess of commercial fortune. However, the original connection with water continued to be symbolic in the location of Benten shrines, found in Edo at the mouths of rivers here (and in print 72 of the series), in the middle of ponds (prints 87, 117), and in riverbank grottoes (print 88). Thus came about the function of a Benten shrine as protector of rivers. At the lower left, the brightly lit second storey room is in one of the Shinagawa brothels, as seen in the previous print. An almost identical view appeared in Hiroshige's "Ehon Edo Miyage," volume VII. The red in the horizon forms a pleasing contrast to the blue of the water and the waves near the shore. The bridge at the lower right is Torimi Bridge, which was renamed Hinkai Bridge in the Meiji Period and subsequently replaced by an overhead pedestrian bridge in the late 1960's when this channel was filled. The shrine survives, but was renamed Kagata Shrine for a reclamation project nearby.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858). Shinagawa Susaki, No. 83 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 8th 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, 30.1478.83 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 30.1478.83_PS20.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 30.1478.83_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2023
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