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Yatsukoji, Inside Sujikai Gate, No. 9 in One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige

Asian Art

Unlike Western plazas, Japanese urban hirokōi, or "broad spaces," were for passage rather than for gathering. Open public space on such a scale was unusual in Edo. Here it was made possible by the demands of constant traffic and by the government's insistence on creating a firebreak. Edo was one of the largest wood-built cities in the world and suffered many fires.

MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 11th month of 1857
    PERIOD Edo Period, Ansei Era
    DIMENSIONS Image: 13 3/8 x 8 15/16 in. (34 x 22.7 cm) Sheet: 14 1/4 x 9 3/16 in. (36.2 x 23.3 cm)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Hiroshige-ga; Publisher: Shitaya Uo Ei
    ACCESSION NUMBER 30.1478.9
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Anna Ferris
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION A plaza-like crossroads near the north gate of the outer enclosure of Edo Castle showing travelers, single and in procession with various merchants and shoppers. Open public space on such a scale was unusual in Edo. In was made possible in this case by the demands of constant traffic and by the authorities' insistence on preserving a firebreak. Looking out over the Kanda River, this clearing served as a point of convergence for several other smaller streets as well, giving it the name of Yatsukoji, or "The Eight Streets." The number eight is often used figuratively in Japanese to mean "many," and the sense of the term here was probably simply that of a junction into which streets led from all directions: an actual count of a map of the time shows as many as ten routes leading directly into the open area. To the lower right are temporary stalls serving tea and refreshments, and at the upper left end of the plaza is a daimyo mansion, rendered in a solemn gray. In the distance, beyond the riverbank and the evening mist reflecting the sunset over the Kanda River is the Kanda Myojin shrine, a shrine dedicated to Onamuchi-no-mikoto and Sukunabikona-no-kami. (These two deities, according to legend, ruled Izumo-no-kuni in the Age of the Gods and taught the world the laws of medicine and magic.) The delicate tortoise-shell pattern of the square title cartouche to the upper right is one example of many in this series of the care lavished on small details.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797-1858). Yatsukoji, Inside Sujikai Gate, No. 9 in One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 11th month of 1857. Woodblock print, Image: 13 3/8 x 8 15/16 in. (34 x 22.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.9 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 30.1478.9_PS20.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 30.1478.9_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2023
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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