Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese: 歌川 広重), also Andō Hiroshige
(Japanese: 安藤 広重; 1797 – 12 October 1858), was a
Japanese ukiyo-e artist, considered the last great master of that
Hiroshige is best known for his landscapes, such as the series The
Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō and The Sixty-nine Stations of
the Kiso Kaidō; and for his depictions of birds and flowers. The
subjects of his work were atypical of the ukiyo-e genre, whose typical
focus was on beautiful women, popular actors, and other scenes of the
urban pleasure districts of Japan's
Edo period (1603–1868). The
Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji
Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series by
Hokusai was a strong
influence on Hiroshige's choice of subject, though Hiroshige's
approach was more poetic and ambient than Hokusai's bolder, more
For scholars and collectors, Hiroshige's death marked the beginning of
a rapid decline in the ukiyo-e genre, especially in the face of the
westernization that followed the
Meiji Restoration of 1868.
Hiroshige's work came to have a marked influence on Western painting
towards the close of the 19th century as a part of the trend in
Japonism. Western artists closely studied Hiroshige's compositions,
and some, such as van Gogh, painted copies of Hiroshige's prints.
1 Early life and apprenticeship
2 Landscapes, flora, and fauna
2.1 Hiroshige's students
3 Late life
7 See also
9.2 Works cited
10 Further reading
11 External links
Early life and apprenticeship
Wind Blown Grass Across the Moon - by Hiroshige
Hiroshige studied under
Toyohiro of the
Utagawa school of artists.
Returning Sails at Tsukuda, from Eight Views of Edo, early-19th
Hiroshige was born in 1797 in the Yayosu Quay section of the Yaesu
Edo (modern Tokyo). He was of a samurai background, and
was the great-grandson of Tanaka Tokuemon, who held a position of
power under the
Tsugaru clan in the northern province of Mutsu.
Hiroshige's grandfather, Mitsuemon, was an archery instructor who
worked under the name Sairyūken. Hiroshige's father, Gen'emon, was
adopted into the family of Andō Jūemon, whom he succeeded as fire
warden for the Yayosu Quay area.
Hiroshige went through several name changes as a youth: Jūemon,
Tokubē, and Tetsuzō. He had three sisters, one of whom died when
he was three. His mother died in early 1809, and his father followed
later in the year, but not before handing his fire warden duties to
his twelve-year-old son. He was charged with prevention of fires at
Edo Castle, a duty that left him much leisure time.
Not long after his parents' deaths, perhaps at around fourteen,
Hiroshige—then named Tokutarō— began painting. He sought the
tutelage of Toyokuni of the Utagawa school, but Toyokuni had too many
pupils to make room for him. A librarian introduced him instead to
Toyohiro of the same school. By 1812
Hiroshige was permitted to
sign his works, which he did under the art name Hiroshige. He also
studied the techniques of the well-established Kanō school, the nanga
whose tradition began with the Chinese Southern School, and the
realistic Shijō school, and likely the perspective techniques of
Western art and uki-e.
Hiroshige's apprentice work included book illustrations and
single-sheet ukiyo-e prints of female beauties and kabuki actors in
the Utagawa style, sometimes signing them Ichiyūsai or, from 1832,
Ichiryūsai. In 1823, he resigned his post as fire warden, though
he still acted as an alternate.[a] He declined an offer to succeed
Toyohiro upon the master's death in 1828.
Landscapes, flora, and fauna
It was not until 1829–1830 that
Hiroshige began to produce the
landscapes he has come to be known for, such as the Eight Views of
Ōmi series. He also created an increasing number of bird and
flower prints about this time. About 1831, his Ten Famous Places in
the Eastern Capital appeared, and seem to bear the influence of
Hokusai, whose popular landscape series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji
had recently seen publication.
An invitation to join an official procession to Kyoto in 1832 gave
Hiroshige the opportunity to travel along the Tōkaidō route that
linked the two capitals. He sketched the scenery along the way, and
when he returned to
Edo he produced the series The Fifty-three
Stations of the Tōkaidō, which contains some of his best-known
Hiroshige built on the series' success by following it with
others, such as the Illustrated Places of Naniwa (1834), Famous Places
of Kyoto (1835), another
Eight Views of Ōmi
Eight Views of Ōmi (1834). As he had never
been west of Kyoto, Hiroshige-based his illustrations of Naniwa
(modern Osaka) and
Ōmi Province on pictures found in books and
Selections from ''The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō''
Print 11: Hakone
Print 16: Kanbara
Print 46: Rain Shower at Shōno
Hiroshige's first wife helped finance his trips to sketch travel
locations, in one instance selling some of her clothing and ornamental
combs. She died in October 1838, and
Hiroshige remarried to Oyasu,[b]
sixteen years his junior, daughter of a farmer named Kaemon from
Hiroshige produced two series entitled Eight Views of the
Edo Environs, each print accompanied by a humorous kyōka poem. The
Sixty-nine Stations of the Kiso Kaidō saw print between about 1835
and 1842, a joint production with Keisai Eisen, of which Hiroshige's
share was forty-six of the seventy prints.
Hiroshige produced 118
sheets for the One Hundred Famous Views of Edo over the last
decade of his life, beginning about 1848.
Selections from One Hundred Famous Views of
Edo and Thirty-six Views
of Mount Fuji
Edo, print 30: The Plum Garden in Kameido
Edo, print 63: Suidō Bridge and the Surugadai Quarter
Thirty-six Views, print 3: Sukiyagashi in the Eastern Capital
Thirty-six Views, print 27: Futami Bay in Ise Province
Hiroshige lived in the barracks until the age of 43. Gen'emon and his
wife died in 1809, when
Hiroshige was 12 years old, just a few months
after his father had passed the position on to him. Although his
duties as a fire-fighter were light, he never shirked these
responsibilities, even after he entered training in Utagawa Toyohiro's
studio. He eventually turned his firefighter position over to his
brother, Tetsuzo, in 1823, who in turn passed on the duty to
Hiroshige's son in 1832.
View of the Whirlpools at Awa triptych, 1857, part of the series
"Snow, Moon and Flowers"
Hiroshige II was a young print artist, Chinpei Suzuki, who married
Hiroshige's daughter, Otatsu. He was given the artist name of
Hiroshige intended to make Shigenobu his heir in all
matters, and Shigenobu adopted the name "Hiroshige" after his master's
death in 1858, and thus today is known as
Hiroshige II. However, the
marriage to Otatsu was troubled and in 1865 they separated. Otatsu was
remarried to another former pupil of Hiroshige, Shigemasa, who
appropriated the name of the lineage and today is known as Hiroshige
Hiroshige II and
Hiroshige III worked in a distinctive style
based on that of Hiroshige, but neither achieved the level of success
and recognition accorded to their master. Other students of Hiroshige
I include Utagawa Shigemaru, Utagawa Shigekiyo, and Utagawa Hirokage.
Followers of Hiroshige
Hiroshige II, 1859
Hiroshige III, c. 1870
Dog stealing a workman's meal from a snow Daruma, Hirokage,
Ushigome bridge to
(牛込神楽坂の図), by Utagawa Hiroshige, 1840.
In his declining years,
Hiroshige still produced thousands of prints
to meet the demand for his works, but few were as good as those of his
early and middle periods. He never lived in financial comfort, even in
old age. In no small part, his prolific output stemmed from the fact
that he was poorly paid per series, although he was still capable of
remarkable art when the conditions were right — his great One
Hundred Famous Views of
Edo (名所江戸百景 Meisho
was paid for up-front by a wealthy Buddhist priest in love with the
daughter of the publisher, Uoya Eikichi (a former fishmonger).
Hiroshige "retired from the world," becoming a Buddhist monk;
this was the year he began his One Hundred Famous Views of Edo. He
died aged 62 during the great
Edo cholera epidemic of 1858 (whether
the epidemic killed him is unknown) and was buried in a Zen Buddhist
temple in Asakusa. Just before his death, he left a poem:
"I leave my brush in the East
And set forth on my journey.
I shall see the famous places in the Western Land."
(The Western Land in this context refers to the strip of land by the
Tōkaidō between Kyoto and Edo, but it does double duty as a
reference to the paradise of the Amida Buddha).
Despite his productivity and popularity,
Hiroshige was not
wealthy—his commissions were less than those of other in-demand
artists, amounting to an income of about twice the wages of a day
labourer. His will left instructions for the payment of his debts.
A rather dark printing of the view sometimes dubbed "Man on Horseback
Crossing a Bridge." From the series The Sixty-nine Stations of the
Kiso Kaidō, this is View 28 and Station 27 at Nagakubo-shuku,
depicting the Wada Bridge across the Yoda River.
Hiroshige produced over 8,000 works. He largely confined himself
in his early work to common ukiyo-e themes such as women (美人画
bijin-ga) and actors (役者絵 yakusha-e). Then, after the death of
Hiroshige made a dramatic turnabout, with the 1831 landscape
series Famous Views of the Eastern Capital (東都名所 Tōto Meisho)
which was critically acclaimed for its composition and colors. This
set is generally distinguished from Hiroshige's many print sets
Edo by referring to it as Ichiyūsai Gakki, a title derived
from the fact that he signed it as Ichiyūsai Hiroshige. With The
Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō (1833–1834), his success was
assured. These designs were drawn from Hiroshige's actual travels
of the full distance of 490 kilometers (300 mi). They included
details of date, location, and anecdotes of his fellow travelers, and
were immensely popular. In fact, this series was so popular that he
reissued it in three versions, one of which was made jointly with
Hiroshige went on to produce more than 2000 different
Edo and post stations Tōkaidō, as well as series such as
The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidō
The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidō (1834–1842) and his own
Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji
Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (1852–1858). Of his estimated
total of 5000 designs, these landscapes comprised the largest
proportion of any genre.
He dominated landscape printmaking with his unique brand of intimate,
almost small-scale works compared against the older traditions of
landscape painting descended from Chinese landscape painters such as
Sesshu. The travel prints generally depict travelers along famous
routes experiencing the special attractions of various stops along the
way. They travel in the rain, in snow, and during all of the seasons.
In 1856, working with the publisher Uoya Eikichi, he created a series
of luxury edition prints, made with the finest printing techniques
including true gradation of color, the addition of mica to lend a
unique iridescent effect, embossing, fabric printing, blind printing,
and the use of glue printing (wherein ink is mixed with glue for a
Hiroshige pioneered the use of the vertical format
in landscape printing in his series Famous Views of the Sixty-odd
Provinces. One Hundred Famous Views of
Edo (issued serially between
1856 and 1859) was immensely popular. The set was published
posthumously and some prints had not been completed — he had created
over 100 on his own, but two were added by
Hiroshige II after his
Keisai Eisen was influenced by and worked with Hiroshige.
Oiwake, from The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kiso Kaidō, 1830s
Hiroshige was a member of the Utagawa school, along with
Utagawa school comprised dozens of artists, and stood
at the forefront of 19th century woodblock prints. Particularly
noteworthy for their actor and historical prints, members of the
Utagawa school were nonetheless well-versed in all of the popular
During Hiroshige’s time, the print industry was booming, and the
consumer audience for prints was growing rapidly. Prior to this time,
most print series had been issued in small sets, such as ten or twelve
designs per series. Increasingly large series were produced to meet
demand, and this trend can be seen in Hiroshige’s work, such as The
Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidō and One Hundred Famous Views of
In terms of style,
Hiroshige is especially noted for using unusual
vantage points, seasonal allusions, and striking colors. In
particular, he worked extensively within the realm of meisho-e
(名所絵) pictures of famous places. During the
Edo period, tourism
was also booming, leading to increased popular interest in travel.
Travel guides abounded, and towns appeared along routes such as the
Tōkaidō, a road that connected
Edo with Kyoto. In the midst of this
burgeoning travel culture,
Hiroshige drew upon his own travels, as
well as tales of others’ adventures, for inspiration in creating his
landscapes. For example, in The Fifty-three Stations on the Tōkaidō
(1833), he illustrates anecdotes from Travels on the Eastern Seaboard
(東海道中膝栗毛 Tōkaidōchū Hizakurige, 1802–1809) by
Jippensha Ikku, a comedy describing the adventures of two bumbling
travelers as they make their way along the same road.
The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō
The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō (1833–1834)
and One Hundred Famous Views of
Edo (1856–1858) greatly influenced
Impressionists such as Monet.
Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh copied two of
the One Hundred Famous Views of
Edo which were among his collection of
ukiyo-e prints. Hiroshige's style also influenced the Mir iskusstva, a
20th-century Russian art movement in which
Ivan Bilibin was a major
artist. Cézanne and Whistler were also amongst those
under Hiroshige's influence.
Hiroshige was regarded by Louise
Gonse, director of the influential
Gazette des Beaux-Arts
Gazette des Beaux-Arts and author
of the two volume L'Art Japonais in 1883, as the greatest painter of
landscapes of the 19th century.
Van Gogh copies of Hiroshige's prints
Sudden Shower Over Shin-Ohashi Bridge and Atake, Hiroshige, 1857
One of the One Hundred Famous Views of Edo
Bridge in the rain (after Hiroshige),
Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh (from
Japonaiserie), oil on canvas, 1887
The Plum Garden in Kameido (1857), from Hiroshige's One Hundred Famous
Views of Edo
Flowering Plum Tree (after Hiroshige) (1887) by Vincent van Gogh, from
his Japonaiserie, in the collection of the
Van Gogh Museum
Van Gogh Museum in
Moonlight View of Tsukuda with Lady on a Balcony
Sumida River, the Wood of the Water god
Moon over Ships Moored at Tsukuda Island from Eitai Bridge
Evening on the Sumida river
Enjoying the fireworks and the cool of the evening at Ryogoku bridge
Moon Bridge in Meguro, from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo
The Sea at Satta, Suruga Province, from Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji
Kozuke Province, from Famous Views of the Sixty-odd Provinces
Horikiri Iris Garden (Horikiri no hanashōbu), from One Hundred Famous
Views of Edo
Fudo Falls, Oji, 1857, from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo
View from Massaki of Suijin Shrine, Uchigawa Inlet, and Sekiya, from
One Hundred Famous Views of Edo
Yoroi Ferry, Koami-cho, from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo
Heavy rain on a pine tree, from Eight Views of Ōmi
Fishing boats on a lake, from Eight Views of Ōmi
Full moon over a mountain landscape, from Eight Views of Ōmi
Sokokura, from Seven Hot Springs of Hakone
View of a long bridge across a lake, from Eight Views of Ōmi
A shrine among trees on a moor
Utagawa school members
Category:Print series by Hiroshige
^ Hiroshige's resignation has led to conjecture: nominally, he passed
the position to his son Nakajirō, but it may have been that Nakajirō
was actually the son of his adoptive grandfather. Hiroshige, as
adopted heir, may have been made to give up the position to the
purported legitimate heir.
Hiroshige and Oyasu married is not known.
^ a b c d Oka 1992, p. 69.
^ a b c Oka 1992, p. 70.
^ a b c d Oka 1992, p. 71.
^ Oka 1992, pp. 70–71.
^ Oka 1992, pp. 71–72.
^ Oka 1992, pp. 72–73.
^ a b Oka 1992, p. 74.
^ Oka 1992, pp. 73–74.
^ a b Oka 1992, p. 75.
^ Oka 1992, p. 79.
^ a b Noguchi 1992, p. 177.
^ Oka 1992, p. 81.
^ a b c Forbes & Henley (2014). Full series
^ Oka 1992, p. 83.
^ Oka 1992, p. 68.
^ "Kisokaido Road". Hiroshige. Archived from the original on
2011-12-13. Retrieved 2011-12-26.
^ Oka 1992, pp. 67–68.
^ Christine Guth, Art of
Edo Japan: The Artist and the City,
1615–1868 (Harry Abrams, 1996). ISBN 0-8109-2730-6
^ Oka 1992, p. 67.
^ G.P. Weisberg; P.D. Cate; G. Needham; M. Eidelberg; W.R. Johnston.
Japonisme - Japanese Influence on French Art 1854-1910. London:
Cleveland Museum of Art, Walters Art Gallery, Robert G. Sawyers
Publications. ISBN 0-910386-22-6.
Forbes, Andrew; Henley, David (2014). 100 Famous Views of Edo. Chiang
Mai: Cognoscenti Books. ASIN: B00HR3RHUY
Forbes, Andrew; Henley, David (2014). Utagawa Hiroshige’s 36 Views
of Mount Fuji. Chiang Mai: Cognoscenti Books. ASIN: B00KD7CZ9O
Forbes, Andrew; Henley, David (2014). Utagawa Hiroshige's 53 Stations
of the Tokaido. Chiang Mai: Cognoscenti Books. ASIN: B00LM4APAI
Noguchi, Yoné (1992). Selected English Writings of Yone Noguchi:
Prose. Associated University Presse.
Oka, Isaburo (1992). Hiroshige: Japan's Great Landscape Artist.
Kodansha. ISBN 9784770016584.
Hiroshige: One Hundred Famous Views of
Edo (1986). Smith II, Henry D.;
Poster, G Amy; Lehman, L. Arnold. Publisher: George Braziller Inc,
plates from the Brooklyn Museum. Paperback: ISBN 0-87273-141-3;
hardcover: ISBN 0-8076-1143-3
Ukiyo-e: 250 years of Japanese Art (1979). Toni Neuer, Herbert
Libertson, Susugu Yoshida; W. H. Smith. ISBN 0-8317-9041-5
Keisai Eisen - Utugawa Hiroshige. Die 69 Stationen des
Kisokaidô. Eine vollständige Serie japanischer Farbholzschnitte und
ihre Druckvarianten. Verlag im Bücherzentrum, Germany, Unna 2008.
Tom Rassieur, "Degas and Hiroshige", Print Quarterly XXVIII, 2011,
Calza, Gian Carlo (2009). Hiroshige: The Master of Nature. Skira.
Uspensky, Mikhail (2011). Hiroshige. Parkstone International.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Utagawa Hiroshige.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
Shizuoka City Tokaido
Hiroshige Museum of Art (in Japanese)
Ukiyo-e Prints by Utagawa Hiroshige
Brooklyn Museum: Exhibitions: One Hundred Famous Views of Edo
Hiroshige's works at
Tokyo Digital Museum
Hiroshige Museum of Art
Sudden Shower over Shin-Ōhashi bridge and Atake
Sudden Shower over Shin-Ōhashi bridge and Atake (1857)
Plum Park in Kameido
The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō
The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō (1833–34)
Famous Views of the Sixty-odd Provinces
Famous Views of the Sixty-odd Provinces (1853–56)
One Hundred Famous Views of
Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji
Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (1859)
The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kiso Kaidō
Eight Views of Ōmi
ISNI: 0000 0001 2021 9980
BNF: cb11907554v (data)