Utagawa Yoshiiku, The Tokaido Samezu Kannon Temple

Utagawa Yoshiiku, 1833-1904

The Tokaido [Processional Tokaido]: Samezu Kannon Temple
(Tokaido no uchi [Gojoraku Tokaido]: Samezu)

deluxe printing; signed Ikkeisai Yoshiiku ga, publisher's seal Joshuya (Joshuya Juzo of Kinjudo), and with censer and date seal, I-shichi, aratame (year of the boar [1863], 7th month, examined)

oban tate-e 14 3/8 by 10 1/8 in., 36.6 by 25.7 cm

In 1863 twenty-four publisher's and sixteen artists produced a total of 162 designs for an ambitious collaborative series to commemorate the historic journey of Shogun Tokugawa Iemochi (1846-1866) from Edo to Kyoto for the purpose of visiting the Emperor Komei (1831-1867). It was a command performance: alarmed by the encroachment of foreigners pushing for access to Japan's ports and unrestricted trade, the Emperor sent an envoy to Edo the previous year with a message requesting (demanding) that the shogun and all the daimyo come to Kyoto to discuss how expell the barbarians at the proverbial gates. The procession included roughly 3,000 foot soldiers, cavalry and gunmen, and took approximately 20 days. It was the first such vist by a shogun to the Imperial court in 229 years, and one of the last displays of shogunal pomp and presence of the Edo period before the feudal system was dissolved and Emperor Meiji was restored to practical Imperial rule in 1868.

The series was variously titled on the prints: Tokaido no uchi (The Tokaido), Tokaido meisho no uchi (Famous signts along the Tokaido), or Tokaido meisho fukei (Famous Landscape Sights Along the Tokaido) and on the two different table of contents that were issued (the first incomplete): Tokaido gojusan tsugi zue (Assemblage of pictures of the Fifty-Three Stations Along the Tokaido). Given the inconsistencies of the titles, the series is collectively known as Gojuraku Tokaido (The Processional Tokaido), and was one of the largest collaborative ukiyo-e series ever produced.

Andreas Marks, When the Shogun Travels to Kyoto: The Great Processional Tokaido Series, in Andon 81, Society for Japanese Arts, 2007, cat. no. 02A (12)



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