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Zojoji Pagoda and Akabane, No. 53 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige (Ando)

Asian Art

The Zōjōji Pagoda was part of the mausoleum of the second shogun, Hidetada. It lay at the southern edge of a hill above the tomb itself. Hiroshige chooses to show only the pagoda's top two stories, painted a splendid red. The dense mass of evergreens pressing close around the building was believed to protect against fire. The six vertical banners rising behind the stylized cloud in the center signify the famous Suitengō Shrine, known for assuring safe births. The area became crowded on the fifth day of each month, when the shrine was opened to the public. The view is to the southwest with Akabane Bridge spanning the Furukawa River in the center.

MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 1st month of 1857
    PERIOD Edo Period, Ansei Era
    DIMENSIONS Sheet: 14 1/4 x 9 5/16 in. (36.2 x 23.7 cm) Image: 13 x 8 3/4 in. (33 x 22.2 cm)
    MARKINGS Publisher: Shitaya Uo Ei
    SIGNATURE Hiroshige-ga
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 30.1478.53
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Anna Ferris
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Zojoji was the personal temple of the Tokugawa family, well known for its ornate attached temples. By the end of the Tokugawa era Zojoji had housed the graves of six different shoguns. The five-storey pagoda here was part of the mausoleum of the second shogun, the most magnificent of all the graves at Zojoji, which was destroyed in a bombing raid in May 1945. The top two stories are shown here. The dense mass of evergreens around the building served as protection against fire. In the center is the Akabane Bridge spanning the Furukawa River; beyond, the broad road runs past the log barrack-lined facade of the mansion of Arima, lord of the domain of Kurume in Kyushu. In the distance is the black firetower, known as the highest in Edo, backed by a wisp of yellow cloud. The six vertical banners in the center symbolize the famous Suitengu Shrine, frequented by many on the fifth of each month when the shrine was opened to the public. After the Meiji Restoration, the Suitengu Shrine moved with the Arima mansion to Nihonbashi Kakigara-cho, where to this day it is immensely popular.
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