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Minami-Shinagawa and Samezu Coast, No. 109 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige

Asian Art

Samezu, the coastal area of Edo Bay south of the Shinagawa settlement, cultivated nori, a type of seaweed in which sushi is wrapped. In the autumn, long rows of tree branches stuck into the shallow waters provided a growing medium for the nori. From winter into the following spring, the seaweed would then be harvested at low tide, usually by women in small boats as we see here. The nori cultivated in Edo Bay was prized as the best in Japan, and though this particular stretch of coast has been filled in, the cultivation of the plant is still carried on in the traditional way elsewhere in the bay.

MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 2nd month of 1857
    PERIOD Edo Period, Ansei Era
    DIMENSIONS Sheet: 14 3/16 x 9 1/4 in. (36 x 23.5 cm) Image: 13 3/8 x 8 3/4 in. (34 x 22.2 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Publisher: Shitaya Uo Ei. The publisher's seal is just barely visible, some of it lost when left margin was trimmed.
    SIGNATURE Hiroshige-ga
    ACCESSION NUMBER 30.1478.109
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Anna Ferris
    PROVENANCE Prior to 1930, provenance not yet documented; by 1930, acquired by Anna Ferris of Summit, NJ; 1930, gift of Anna Ferris to the Brooklyn Museum.
    Provenance FAQ
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION This view brings us to the Samezu shore, west of the Tokaido Highway, in the southern part of the Shinagawa settlement. A Zen temple is located in the upper left, by the black mass of trees, and Shinagawa Susaki (see print 83 of the series) extends out beyond the second white sail from the left. This coastal area was and continues to be known for the cultivation of nori, a kind of seaweed in which sushi is wrapped. Tree branches were placed in the shallow waters to promote the growth of the nori, and it was harvested at low tide from winter to spring, usually by women in small boats, as seen in this print. The nori cultivated in Edo Bay had the reputation of being the best in Japan. Samezu, or "shark sandbar," derives its name from the founding of Kaianji Temple. It has been said that in 1251 a shark washed up on the shore here with an image of Kannon in its belly. It was thought to be a good omen, and a temple of the Zen sect was dedicated to provide for the Kannon. The place name survives as a station on the Keihin Kyuko Line, but the entire stretch of coast has since been filled in.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858). Minami-Shinagawa and Samezu Coast, No. 109 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 2nd month of 1857. Woodblock print, Sheet: 14 3/16 x 9 1/4 in. (36 x 23.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.109 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 30.1478.109_PS20.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 30.1478.109_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2023
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