ukiyo-e (1830’s)

1830’s ukiyo-e (woodblock prints)

The Tōkaidō in the Popular Imagination

As traffic increased on the Tōkaidō, popular books and entertainments concerning the highway proliferated.  These can be classified under four broad categories:

  1. travel books with simple black and white sketches;
  2. panoramic folding maps for travelers;
  3. pictorial representations with texts of humorous stories, notably the misadventures of the comic duo Yajirobe and Kitahachi in Tōkaidōchū Hizakurige (Shank’s Mare on the Tōkaidō, 1802-1822);
  4. large single sheet representations of the Tōkaidō that functioned like a board games for children.

The ultimate form of these popular guidebooks and entertainments was Utagawa (Andō) Hiroshige’s The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō (1833–1834 in the Hōeidō edition), a series of woodblock prints. These ukiyo-e prints became enormously popular and have been reprinted countless times down to the present.

Interactive map with comparison of all versions of the Tōkaidō Road prints by Utagawa (Andō) Hiroshige

Datebase of all ukiyo-e prints: Guide to ukiyo-e with searchable database of prints:


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