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Meguro Drum Bridge and Sunset Hill, No. 111 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige (Ando)

Asian Art

Of the two attractions mentioned in the title, the Drum Bridge was the more celebrated site in the Meguro area. Arched bridges were unusual enough in Edo, but even more curious was a stone bridge, which offered few advantages in a city prone to earthquakes. Rounded forms and stone structures were more common in China than in Japan, suggesting a Chinese prototype for this bridge, although it is said to have been designed in the 1740s by a wandering priest inspired by a similar one in Kyushu, Japan. Hiroshige evokes a greater sense of isolation, even loneliness, in this snow scene by offering an oblique view.

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)
    MARKINGS Publisher: Shitaya Uo Ei. Title in cartouche, lower right. Censor seal.
    SIGNATURE Hiroshige-ga
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 30.1478.111
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Anna Ferris
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION A view of the famous drum bridge in the valley of the Meguro River, the main route to the shrine of Meguro Fudo (not seen here and one of the few shrines not shown in this series). Arched, stone bridges were unusual in Edo, as they did not withstand earthquakes well, and this type of structure was more common in China than Japan. By 1919, this bridge was replaced by a steel structure, which although flat, does have an arch shape in the railings. On the left, the road leads up a steep slope known as Gyoninzaka, named after a wandering ascetic (gyonin) who founded the temple of Daienji on the side of the hill. The slope leading down from Meguro Station still survives today. The Sunset Hill of the title is shown at the left and was once known for its brilliant maple trees, although they had disappeared before this print was published. The hill has been the site of Gajoen, a large hotel and banquet palace, since 1931. This print portrays particular skill in depicting snow accumulation on the tree branches. The coming spring might be suggested by the use of green bokashi on the title cartouche.
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