Japan Art and Sumida River

Japan Art and Sumida River

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) created a stunning ukiyo-e print concerning the Sumida River – with Mount Fuji in the distance.

The MET Museum says: “The speed and urgency of the galloping horsemen stand in contrast to the solitary and static image of Fuji capping the horizon like an omniscient observer and marking that which is eternal. The raised road that winds into the depths of the print directs our gaze to the mountain, as do the trees that function as a framing device.”

Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915) is famous for utilizing scenes connected to dawn, dusk, and nightfall. Hence, many atmospheric art pieces are entailed by Kiyochika – similar to the lovely print above related to two people and the Sumida River.

The Smithsonian says: “When Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847–1915) returned to his birthplace, which he had known as Edo, in 1874, he found a city transformed. Renamed Tokyo (Eastern Capital), it was filled with railroads, steamships, gaslights, telegraph lines, and large brick buildings—never-before-seen entities that were now ingrained in the cityscape.”

The final print of the Sumida River is by Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858). Hiroshige, similar to Hokusai, Kuniyoshi, Utamaro, and a few others, inspired many impressionists from Europe and North America.

The British Museum says, “Renowned painter and print artist. Pupil of Utagawa Toyohiro; also studied with Okajima Rinsai and Ooka Umpo. The leading landscape artist of the ‘Ukiyoe’ school, Hiroshige was the son of an official in the fire department.” 

Overall, the three prints provide a unique angle to the Sumida River.

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