Tag Archives: Hiroshige

October 17, 2015

The months and days are the travellers of eternity. The years that come and go are also voyagers. Those who float away their lives on ships or who grow old leading horses are forever journeying, and their homes are wherever their travels take them. Many of the men of old died on the road, and I too for years past have been stirred by the sight of a solitary cloud drifting with the wind to ceaseless thoughts of roaming.”

These are the opening words (translated by Donald Keene) of Oku no Hosomichi (Narrow Road to the Deep North), a prose and verse travel diary written in the late 17th century by one of Japan’s literary giants, Matsuo Basho, who is most famous throughout the world for his haiku poetry. The journey he described in his book is not simply a splendid introduction to the landscape of Japan but it is also a wonderful introduction to the heart and soul of this rich culture.

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June 28, 2015

In the mid-19th century in the city of Edo, now called Tokyo, a Japanese artist called Hiroshige was one of the country’s foremost painters and print designers. He had already become famous for depicting the Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido (Tokaido Gojusantsugi), a series of landscape prints that tell us as much about the cultural landscape of 19th-century Japan as its geography. In the late 1850s, Hiroshige chose to depict views of his beloved city Edo in a series called One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (Edo Meisho Hyakkei).

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