Hiroshige III: A Real View of Nihon-bashi with Horse-Drawn Train 鐵道馬車往復日本橋の真図

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Artist: Utagawa Hiroshige III (1843-1894)
Title:  A Real View of Nihon-bashi with Horse-Drawn Train 鐵道馬車往復日本橋の真図Date: 1882, June 10 御届け明治十五年六月十日

According to information from the Edo Tokyo Museum exhibition “400 Years of Nihon-bashi: The Foremost Landmarks of Edo-Tokyo Seen in Art” the following timeline for the modernizing developments are recorded:

 1870 (Meiji 3): Jinriki-sha 人力車A man-pulled, two wheeled carriage received the business permit for operation on the street, and a station for the jinriksha was created near the notice board area, takafuda-ba, south of the bridge.

 1873 (Meiji 6): The wooden bridge (Nihonbashi) was changed into a western-style construction.

 1882 (Meiji 15): The railroad for horse-pulled carriages was built on the street between Nihon-bashi and Shin-bashi, and then farther extended to Ueno上野 and Asakusa 浅草in the same year. This development was due to the completion of the railway between Shin-bashi 新橋 (meaning New Bridge), located in south of Nihon-bashi日本橋 (meaning Japan Bridge) and Yokohama 横浜. Because of the construction of the railroad for the carriages, the separation of pedestrian and wheeled traffic became necessary. This was the beginning of domination of the wheeled traffic on the streets.

In this composition, the horse-pulled carriages are placed in the center, with the carefully drawn cars that include large windows and seem to be quite full with passengers. In the foreground we see the busy traffic of the human-pulled jinriki-shas and horse carriages, as well as a running messenger man. In the background we see the dark building of Ômi-ya, the white building of Telegram Office, and the sign board in front of wicket fence along the side street. To our left, at the green stone structure with a street lantern before the wooden handrail of the bridge, a police man stands. Here he seems to be offering directions to a traveller.

We see a wide variety of variously clad people as pedestrians, many walking  towards the bridge, as well as a running fishmonger carrying a hanging basket. He must be coming from Uogashi, the fish market on the other side of the river.

Also we can note the prominent electric power lines and the electric poles, and the artist’s use of aniline red for the sky. This is a classic example of a  kaika-e開化絵, picture of westernizing/civilizing Japan. (With thanks to Michiko Sato-Grube for her above research.)

Dimensions: 37x 24.8 cm each sheet (triptych)
Condition: Excellent impression and color. Very good condition. Minor folds near one margin on each sheet and some backing remnants, verso. One hole on the left of the rightmost sheet.

Publisher: Ôkura Shirôbei 大倉四郎兵衛
Signature:  Oju (By request) Hiroshige ga