Artist: Hiroshige AndoTitle: Suruga-choSeries: No. 8 from the series 100 Famous Views of EdoPublisher: WatanabeDate: originally published 1857, this Showa era edition printed from recut blocks by Watanabe, bearing round 7mm publisher's sealMedium: Japanese woodblock printSize: oban, approx.10.5" x 15.5"
THE STYLIZED YET MAGESTIC quality of this print reflects its theme: we are looking past Edo's premier store, at its premier mountain, and down a street that was known for its perfect orientation toward the mountain. The name "Suruga-cho" was taken from the view itself, after the province (today Shizoka Prefecture) in whose territory the summit of Mount Fuji lay. It has been proposed by architectural historian Kirishiki Shinjiro that Suruga-cho, together with several other streets, was consciously designed in the original plan of Edo to provide a view of Mount Fuji. Whether this is true or not, the view of Fuji from Suruga-cho became in time an Edo tradition and was often depicted in printed views of the city. What sets Hiroshige's design apart from most others is its resolute symmetry -- something that japanese artists have always resisted -- here soft ended only by the irregularity of the stylized clouds that imbue Mt. Fuji with a sense of lofty transcendence that is heightened by the use of a light orange bokashi along their lower edge. This brings us back down into the city, to the Echigoya itself, today Mitsukoshi Department Store and still the most venerable of all the great merchandisers of Tokyo. It is here identified by its crest on the noren. Echigoya occupied both corners of Suruga-cho, as seen here from the main Nihon-bashi thoroughfare.
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