Hokusai 北斎: Ishibe 石部; Plum Tree Village 梅の木村 on the Tokaido

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Artist: Katsushika Hokusai 北斎 (1760-1849)
Title: Ishibe, Village of the old plum tree 石部: 2 1/2-ri 7-chô to Kusatsu.
Series: An untitled series of the Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido 東海道五十三次
Date: ca.1804

Village of the old plum tree (52nd station of the Tokaido). 石部: 2 1/2-ri 7-chô to Kusatsu. Our view is of a prominent graphic superimposed on a view of an ancient plum tree in bloom, one that has been fenced in for its protection. Plum Tree Village was situated between the stations Kusatsu and Ishibe and was called ma-no-yad o 間の宿, “resting place in between”. This was officially designated as Hon-jin 本陣, a resting place for the all-important Daimyô and their officials as they traveled back and forth on the Tokaido. Plum Tree Village was famous for the medicine Wachû-san 和中散, which notably cured the abdominal ache of the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (who came to power in 1603). This medicine shop had 5 branches in Edo, therefore, it is marked as the original/main house. Within a black diamond in the center circle is written Wachû-san 和中散本家, the name of the medicine (in the vertical writing); honke, "original/main shop" is written in the horizontal. This would seem to be something of a very early type of pharmaceutical advertisement by Japan’s most famous print artist. The first edition of this untitled Tokaido series by Hokusai were privately published as surimono in 1804 for a kyoka poetry club and included poems in the sky. Even this second edition, published in 1804 without poems. has become quite hard to find. There are 59 prints in the set, and eight of them are horizontal tanzaku.

Dimensions: kokonotsugiri 13 x 18 cm
Signature: Ga-kyo-jin Hokusai ga