A GUIDE TO JAPANESE PRINTS - BASIL STEWART
FAMOUS VIEWS IN THE SIXTY ODD PROVINCES, BY HIROSHIGE;
HUNDRED VIEWS IN VARIOUS PROVINCES, BY HIROSHIGE II
WE will now turn our attention to the remaining upright landscape series by Hiroshige and certain views by his pupil, which will complete our section dealing with this subject of illustration.
Hiroshige's very ambitious set of "Views in different Provinces," being exceeded in number only by his "Hundred Famous Views in Yedo," is entitled Roku-ju-yo Shio Meisho Dzu-ye (literally "Views of the more-than-sixty Provinces"), and consists of sixty-nine plates and a title-page with list of contents.
The seal-dates on the prints range from 1853 to 1856, the majority (42) being for the first year, one only for 1854, seventeen for 1855, and nine for 1856; publisher Koshimura-ye Heisuke, whose seal is on each print, sometimes on margin, sometimes on print itself.
Besides the publisher's seal, other seals occur on the prints: (i) the engraver Hori Take or Soji, but only on some of them; (ii) date-seal, either on margin or on face of print; (iii) two small inspectors' seals, or, in lieu of them, the aratame ("examined") seal; making five seals in all.
The title of the series is on a narrow, upright, red label, and the sub-title on a similar one alongside, variously coloured. Hiroshige's signature is on the red label usual to his upright prints, and that of the engraver Take, where it occurs, generally on a smaller red label next it.
Owing partly to the large number of plates comprised in this series, they are of very varying quality. Another, and probably the main reason, is because Hiroshige did not actually visit many of the provinces, but based his designs on the drawings of other artists, altering them to his fancy; thus his drawings of Matsushima (No. 28), Hashidate (38), and Itsuku-shima (50), places which are called the "Three most famous Views in Japan," are in this set amongst the least interesting.
On the other hand, some views are amongst Hiroshige's master-pieces. Speaking generally the views of coast, lake, and river scenery are the best, while those of inland scenery are inferior. The series as a whole, however, is notable for the careful gradation and shading of different tints, one into the other, particularly in the views of rock and mountain scenery, which go far to retrieve what, as a drawing, is often crude and unskilful.
This, of course, only applies to good impressions from the first edition, this careful grading of colour being omitted from late issues. Even copies from the first edition vary considerably in this respect; in fact it is unusual to find two copies of the same plate exactly alike; with the same colour-scheme, or same differences of tints, or even same depth of colour, apart, of course, from loss due to fading. For this reason it is impossible in the following description of the various plates to give more than an idea as to what condition or state any particular view is most desirable; the collector must judge for himself which he considers the best. There is, of course, such considerable differences between early and late issues, that anyone with any experience at all can soon detect them. It is evident, therefore, that the printer did not adhere to one particular colour-scheme even for the first edition, but tried variations to discover which gave the most pleasing effect.
Owing to the large number of views in this series, to give a description of all the sixty-nine plates would take up more space than their importance warrants, apart from the fact that some of them are of too poor a quality to be worth inclusion; such, therefore, have been omitted. A complete set is given in the catalogue to the British Museum collection.
As impressions from this series are frequently found with the margins cut, owing to having been bound up in book form at one time, it has not always been possible to give the dates of those plates wherein the date-seal so occurs.
No. 1. YAMASHIRO PROVINCE, Togetsu Bridge, Arashiyama. View
of a hill-side on which grow flowering cherry trees, and crimson cloud floating about it ; a waterfall plunges into the river below in the centre of which is a flat island connected to either bank by a long low bridge.
Engraver Take ; censors' seals, date-seal (Ox 7 = 1853), and publisher's seal on face of print.
No. 2. YAMATO PROVINCE, Tatsuta River and Hills. A blue river flows past steep banks on which grow maple trees ; hills rise above mist beyond further shore ; raft in foreground. Five seals as in No. 1.
No. 3. KAWA-CHI PROVINCE, Otokoyama in Hirakata. View of the bend of a wide river flowing past villages on either bank, that on the further side lying at foot of brown mountains rising above crimson and purple clouds floating about their base. Seals as in foregoing.
No. 4. IDZUMI PROVINCE, Takashi Coast. View from a pine-dotted slope on which stands a small torii and shrine commanding a wide prospect of sea and hilly coast-line on right. A good plate.
The sea should be a deep blue in foreground, lighter towards horizon, where it merges into a crimson sky, changing to orange and then greyish-purple above. Seals and date as in foregoing.
No. 5. SETTSU PROVINCE, Demi Beach and Lighthouse, Sumiyoshi. A cluster of houses by the edge of a stream overlooking the shore and bay, and a small bridge, close to which, surrounded by pines, is a stone lighthouse. Boats moored close to the shore and others sailing out in the bay ; coast-line on horizon. Date and other seals as in the foregoing. A good plate.
In best impressions the upper part of the lighthouse should be graded to a deeper shade than the lower part.
No. 7. ISE PROVINCE, Asama Hills. View from the terrace of a tea-house looking down the pass across a wilderness of conical hills to the sea beyond ; tea-houses on either side of the road as it mounts the steep incline up to the terrace. Date-seal on face of print, Ox 7. No engraver. A good plate when carefully printed.
In best impressions the foreground should be a light colour, the hills green, and not a blue-green, in greater contrast to the blue of the sea.
No. 8. SHIMA PROVINCE, Toba Harbour and Hiyori Hill. View looking down to the harbour, and a green hill on the right ; islands and sails on a dark blue sea. Dated Ox 7. No engraver.
No. 9. OWARI PROVINCE, Festival of Tenno Shrine at Tsu-shima. In centre a procession of festival boats decorated with great clusters of red lanterns ; dark sky indicating nightfall. Dated Ox 7. Take engraver.
The sea should be deep blue by the boats and at edge of shore, lighter between.
No. 10. MIKAWA PROVINCE, Horai-ji Temple. A path by the edge of a torrent past a shrine in a grove of trees, leading to a long flight of steps up a precipitous green mountain-side ; clouds across landscape. Engraver Take. Date-seal in margin (cut).
No. 11. TOTOMI PROVINCE, Lake Hama-na and Kanzanji Temple. A broad winding belt of deep blue water between yellow and grey hills ; in foreground a narrow sand-spit leading to the shrine amidst trees, standing on a green hill overlooking the lake ; yellow glow on horizon. A beautifully coloured plate.
Engraver's seal (Take) and censors' seals on print ; date and publisher's seals in left margin (cut).
No. 13. KAI PROVINCE, The Monkey Bridge. A well-known plate, strongly reminiscent of Hiroshige's famous kakemono-ye of the same subject.
Below a bridge, springing from high cliffs, half hidden by red maples, foams a torrent in a narrow gorge, which just beyond changes to open country with low-lying banks; mountains in distant background. Seals in margin (cut).
No. 14. IZU PROVINCE, Hot Springs at Shuzenji. View looking up a stream from below a waterfall with numerous inns on either hank, connected by a bridge, just above which is an island whereon stands a large stone lantern. Background of green hills. Engraver Take; date in margin (cut).
No. 15. SAGAMI PROVINCE, Caves at Enoshima. On the right the sea-washed caves and wooded heights of Enoshima, with waves foaming about their base; on the left Fuji partly visible across the hay. Engraver Take; date in margin (1853).
No. 16. MUSASHI PROVINCE, Morning Snow, Sumida River. In the foreground, on the right, stands the Makuchiyama Temple amongst trees, on a hill overlooking the Imado Bridge, which crosses a stream flowing into the Sumida River. Snow-covered islands out in the river, and in the distance a solitary timber-raft; red mist lying over further bank. One of the best plates in the series. Seals in margin (cut).
No. 17. MUSASHI PROVINCE, Yedo, Asakusa Temple. View of the Temple grounds at night, under a starry sky, during a fair, thronged with crowds coming out of the Temple. Seals in margin (cut); no engraver's seal. Another fine print.
The roofs of the temple buildings and pagoda, the trees, and sky should be strongly printed in a deep blue-grey to grey tint; in most impressions they are in too light a colour, thus losing much of the effectiveness of this plate. (See Plate 26, Illustration I.)
No. 18. AWA PROVINCE, Kominato Bay. View from a pass between green hills at foot of which lies a village, looking out across the bay, whereon float five junks, to cliffs and hills opposite, at foot of which is the town by the edge of the bay; orange sky on horizon.
Inspectors' seals and date-seal (Ox 8 =1853), also publisher's seal on face of print; engraver's seal of Take.
No. 19. KAZUSA PROVINCE, Yazashi-ga-ura and the Ninety-nine "Ri" Coast. Two gangs of men hauling in a seine net (not shown), and a boat being rowed ashore; men and women on beach gathering clams.
Engraver Take; date-seal (Ox 8 = 1853), and publisher's seal in left margin, censors' seals top margin.
No. 20. SHIMOSA PROVINCE, Choshi Bay. A rocky point juts out on the left into a narrow channel through which three boats are sailing; beyond, a wide expanse of bay commanding a fine view of Fuji on the horizon. Seals in margin (cut), no engraver.
No. 21. HITACHI PROVINCE, Daijingu Temple, Kashima. Houses and street leading down to the beach close to which is built a torii in the water behind rises a green, pine-clad hill, shaded to blue at the summit. Three boats sailing in middle distance, and another in foreground. Engraver Take. Publisher's seal right margin; date-seal in left (cut).
No. 22. OMI PROVINCE, Ishiyama Temple and Lake Biwa. The masterpiece of the series. Only finest impressions have the light cloud across the face of the moon. (See Plate 26, Illustration 2.)
Censors' seals, date-seal (Ox 7 = 1853), engraver's seal (Take), and publisher's seal on face of print.
No. 24. HIDA PROVINCE, Kago-watashi ("Basket-ferry"). Travellers crossing the gorge of a river in baskets from one platform to another steep crags dotted with pines and other trees on either side, and a mountain rising up in background. One of the best plates of inland rock and cliff scenery in the series. Engraver Take; other seals in left margin (cut).
In best impressions the river should be a deep blue, the foam of the torrent indicated by patches of lighter blue (missing in later copies); the rocks in foreground graded reddish-orange at bottom to green, edged with brown tints above. The mountain in background grey (not brown) graded to black or deep blue at the summit; orange or crimson sky behind changing to blue above.
No. 25. SHINANO PROVINCE, The Reflected Moon, Sarashina. A well-known view in this set. On a steep hill-side the full moon is reflected in the watery rice-plots, planted in terraces. Below, on the left, runs a stream in a valley, and grey mountain beyond. Engraver Take. Seals in margin (cut).
No. 26. KOTSUKE PROVINCE, Mount Haruna under Snow. A small red bridge joins two snowy cliffs across a blue stream, the fantastic crags of Mount Haruna under a thick blanket of snow, all white against a dark wintry sky. Engraver Take.
No. 29. DEWA PROVINCE, Mogami River and Tsukiyama (Mountain of the Moon) in the distance, rising above bands of grey cloud; sailing barges, rafts, and smaller boats on the river, which here flows in a double bend. (Seals in margin cut, Take engraver.)
No. 31. ECHIZEN PROVINCE, Tsuruga. A land-locked bay connected with the sea by a narrow channel, and a fleet of junks anchored at the foot of a steep hill, and two others sailing close in-shore in foreground. (Seals in margin cut, no engraver.)
No. 32. KAGA PROVINCE, The Lotus Lake, Kanazawa. Numerous boats fishing on the lake with flares, by night ; two islands, dotted with houses, joined by two bridges. Green hilly shore and mountain in back-ground; dark night sky. (Seals in margin cut.)
No. 33. NOTO PROVINCE, Coast of Taki. Yellow and green cliffs on which grow cherry trees in blossom, of fantastic shape, pierced by a row of natural arches; on right a torrent runs down over the cliffs into the sea, and at the foot a small torii. Engraver Take.
No. 34. ETCHU PROVINCE, Bridge of Boats. A long curving bridge of boats across a wide river; cluster of huts on opposite shore amongst bamboo and pine trees; green slopes behind. Engraver Take.
No. 35. ECHIGO PROVINCE, Oyashirazu. A narrow beach running round a rocky promontory, honeycombed with caves, viewed from the sea. Brown cliffs, green above, with scattered pines growing on them; deep blue sea. (No engraver; date 1855.)
No. 36. SADO PROVINCE, Kanayama. Three streams issuing at the base of yellow cliffs from the entrances to the mines; bushes overhang the cliffs which are green above. (No engraver; dated 1855.)
No. 39. TAJIMA PROVINCE, Temple of Kwannon, Iwaidani. On the left a great cliff towers up, overhanging the path leading to the temple standing amidst trees; on the right, a torrent leaps in cascades down the mountain-side; pink clouds floating over landscape. (Dated 1855.)
No. 41. HOKI PROVINCE, Distant View of 0-yama. Peasants transplanting rice in a rain-storm, through which appears the form of the mountain in the distance. Aratame seal in top margin; engraver's seal (Take), date-seal (1853), and publisher's seal in left-hand margin. One of the best plates in the series.
In late impressions the trees in middle distance (right) are printed too bright a green, and the mountain and trees behind not sufficiently strongly, nor the black streaks of cloud. (See Plate 26, Illustration 3.)
No. 42. IZUMO PROVINCE, Taisha. One of the masterpieces of the series. In foreground a giant cryptomeria stands out strongly against a misty background, through which appears the dim outline of a torii, and two figures retreating towards the distance; passing by the cryptomeria are a man and two women taking offerings to the shrine. (Aratame seal in top margin; date-seal cut.)
Late impressions are lacking in contrasts, the background being too dark.
No. 43. IWAMI PROVINCE, Salt Beaches at Takatsu. Salt-makers on a flat beach overlooked by the green slope of a promontory with pines growing on it. Aratame seal in top margin; date-seal Ox 12 (1853); engraver's seal (Soji), and publisher's seal left-hand margin.
No. 45. HARIMA PROVINCE, Coast of Maiko. A row of ancient pines growing on a sandy beach, close to the water's edge. A well-known plate. (Date in margin 1853.)
No. 46. MIMASAKA PROVINCE, Yamabushi ("travelling priest's") Valley. A famous rain scene.
On the near bank of a stream, on which is a solitary timber raft, two travellers pass; one has his hat carried away by the wind. On the further shore rises a great rock seen through the curving streams of sabre-like rain.
No. 47. BIZEN PROVINCE, Coast of Tanokuchi, Yukayama. A great grey torii stands on a reef of low rocks close to the shore in front of a cluster of huts lying at the foot of a low green hill; junk anchored off shore, and beyond a reef another sailing towards harbour. Crimson sky on horizon, blue above. (Seals in margin cut.)
No. 48. BITCHU PROVINCE, Go Waterfall. A mountain torrent rushes foaming along past two towering pinnacles of rock on either bank; round the base of one runs a green path on an overhanging ledge. In back-ground rises a green hill (blue at base), against a yellow sky. Bold drawing.
(Aratame seal top margin; date-seal (Ox 12), and publisher's seal left margin.)
No. 49. BINGO PROVINCE, Temple of Kwannon, Abu-mon. Another well-known plate of this series. (See Plate 26, Illustration 4.) View of the temple perched high on the summit of a precipitous cliff, over which shines a dim full moon through the mist.
In best impressions the sea is a deep green, edged with blue round the foot of the cliff, gradually merging into a greyish-blue mist in background; in the back-ground the black summits of a range of mountains against a deep grey-blue sky appear above the mist. The cliff itself should be a deep grey (almost black), over-printed at the base with dark green, and here and there shaded with patches of lighter grey; the detached rocks at the base should be a dark brown tint.
(Aratame seal, date-seal (1853), engraver's seal (? Soji [partly cut]), and publisher's seal in left margin.)
No. 51. SUWO PROVINCE, Kintai Bridge, Iwakuni. A wooden bridge on four massive stone piers; village and high hills beyond over which lie mists.
No. 52. NAGATO PROVINCE, Shimonoseki. Two women in a ferry-boat passing the stern of a big junk at anchor, and others moored near by.
No. 53. KII PROVINCE, Coast of Waka. Five cranes flying inland over the sea; below them a shrine on a small wooded island joined to the shore by a series of small bridges. Dark grey mountains rise above purple mists in the background against a crimson sky, changing to blue above. A good plate.
(Aratame seal and date-seal (Hare 9 = 1855) in top margin; publisher's seal on face of print.)
In best impressions the sea should be deep blue in foreground and tops of waves a lighter blue; the two large cranes in upper foreground should have their wings, one with them picked out in blue, and the other in gauffrage.
No. 54. AWA-JI PROVINCE, Go-shiki-ga-hama ("The Coast of Five Colours"). Fishermen in boats hauling in a large seine net; sandy beach between brown rocks, green hills behind, touched with brown at top; golden sky on horizon.
No. 55. AWA PROVINCE, Naruto Rapids. A masterpiece. A whirling eddy and waves breaking into foam over projecting rocks. (See Plate F, page 156, for reproduction in colours of an exceptionally fine copy of this masterpiece.)
Aratame seal and date-seal (Hare 9 = 1855) in top margin.
The sea should be a deep blue, not green as is generally found.
No. 56. SANUKI PROVINCE, "The Elephant-headed" Mountain, Zozusan. The mountain rises up in the background, purple clouds floating at its base, seen across a plain dotted with trees and straw-roofed huts. In foreground a party of travellers coming up from the plain below, by a road in a cutting; bushes of red camellia on either side. (Engraver Soji; dated 1855.)
No. 59. CHIKUZEN PROVINCE, Hakozaki. A narrow zigzag strip of land runs through the sea across the foreground, covered with pines; on right a red torii and stone lanterns round it. Beyond, appear a few yellow huts on a grey shore at the foot of a green hill (summit graded to a red-brown), off which lies a small island. In the distance stretches a grey coast with pines growing along the water's edge. Two boats sailing along the coast, and others at anchor off the village.
The sea should be a deep blue along the edge of the land and in bottom fore-ground, lighter elsewhere.
(Aratame seal and date-seal (1855) in top margin; engraver's seal (Soji) and publisher's seal below artist's signature.)
No. 61. BUZEN PROVINCE, Rakan Temple. A curving blue river flowing past red-brown cliffs pierced with caves and galleries leading under-ground to the temple. (Dated on face of print Tiger II (1854); aratame seal above signature; no engraver.)
The cliffs should be red-brown at base, then yellow, changing to green, and finally edged with brown above. A fine, bold drawing.
No. 64. HIGO PROVINCE, Go-kanosho. Across a fallen tree-trunk which forms a bridge across a misty abyss, goes a peasant carrying faggots; beyond rises a great blue peak wreathed in fleecy clouds against a blue sky. A fine plate.
(Also found with mountain in grey and sky touched with yellow.)
No. 65. HIUGA PROVINCE, Yuzu-no-Minato Harbour. View of a land-locked harbour looking out to sea, past a narrow mouth, with steep wooded height on left; four junks anchored off shore in foreground, and corner of a tea-house overlooking the harbour on the right.
No. 66. OSUMI PROVINCE, Sakura-jima ("Cherry Island"). A green island with flowering cherries on its lower slopes, rises up into a steep red-brown, flat-topped cone; junks sailing by and others at anchor in foreground.
(Aratame seal and engraver's seal (Take) on face of print.)
No. 67. SATSUMA PROVINCE, The Sword Rocks, Bo-no-ura. Two great needle-like rocks stand in the water close to the shore, two people in a boat looking at them; other rocks beyond and sails in the distance. Engraver Take.
No. 68. IKI PROVINCE, Shisaku. Snow falling from a black sky over a blue sea; in foreground a steep conical hill, with a few small pines on it. In middle distance a headland juts out into the sea, joined to the mainland by a low narrow neck; hilly coast-line in background, all white with snow. A masterpiece.
(Publisher's seal in bottom right-hand corner ; date-seal (Dragon 3 = 1856) and aratame seal in top margin.)
The hill in foreground should be tinted grey at base, white to summit; sky blackest at top, then deep grey down to the horizon; sea deep blue at edges of shore, lighter in centre.
No. 69. TSUSHIMA PROVINCE. Clearing weather after rain; a rainbow arches over a bay and distant coasts. Boats in a small harbour.
(Only two other rainbow scenes by Hiroshige are known.)
HIROSHIGE II designed a series in close imitation of the foregoing entitled SHOKOKU MEISHO HYAK'KEI, "A Hundred Views of Various Provinces," published by Uwo-yei (Uwo-ya Yeikichi), and variously dated for the years 1859 to 1861. Mr. Happer states that about eighty plates have been noted.
While the majority of them are inferior and crude in colour and execution, a few compare very favourably with the best in the "Sixty Odd Provinces" set.
At Plate 27, Illustration 1, page 162, we illustrate an excellent snow-scene from this series, entitled "Snow at Kiso, Province of Shinano," a nearer view of the right-hand sheet of Hiroshige's famous triptych of the Kiso Gorge under snow; and at Illustration 2 on the same plate is another good view which is much above the average of the series, entitled "Nagoya, Province of Bishu." Moonlight scene over the sea and town of Nagoya lying along the shore. In the foreground a great golden dolphin forming a terminal to the roof of Nagoya Castle. Flight of geese across the sky and face of the moon. Dated Sheep year (1859).
Another very good plate is that showing the Kintai Bridge, Province of Suwo, on its four massive stone piers, in a heavy snowfall, a raft in the stream in the distance. The water should be a deep blue where it flows under the bridge, and along the shore in foreground, and again where it disappears in the distance, lighter elsewhere. Dated 1859.
Also the following:-
"Pass of Mashin, Province of Omi." A rest-house built out on the steep side of a hill commanding a fine view of Lake Biwa and the opposite shore, and the road lined with booths leading up to it. Dated Cock year (1861). (See Plate 27, Illustration 3.)
Beach near Enoshima, with a high wave breaking in, dated 1859, not unlike Hiroshige's "Wave at Satta Point" in the "Thirty-six Views of Fuji." Dated 1859.
"Evening Cooling at Kyoto," similar to Hiroshige's scene in his "Kyoto Meisho" set. Dated 1859.
"Beach at Maiko" (dated 1859); compare with same scene in "Sixty Odd Provinces."
"Tatsukuchi-yama." A very fine rain and wind scene. The great rock cavern known as the "Dragon's Mouth," Province of Bizen, and a peasant hurrying along against the storm by the edge of the river under trees which bend before the gale.
Hiroshige II also designed a half-plate set entitled Sho-koku Rokuju Hak'kei, "Sixty-eight Views of Various Provinces," each plate numbered; two views on one sheet; dated 1862.
Both the foregoing series by Hiroshige and Hiroshige II have been copied, practically line for line, by Hasegawa Sadanobu in a quarter-plate set entitled Shokoku Meisho Hyak'kei ("A Hundred Famous Views in Various Provinces").