Utagawa Hiroshige was born as the son of a low-class samurai. He became an ukiyo-e apprentice at the age of 15 and a professional artist at 16. He started with yakusha-e and bijin-ga like other artists, but when he was 35 years old his landscape series Toto Meisho (Famous Sights in the Eastern City) was published and attracted a lot of attention for the poetic atmosphere of his prints. The following year Hiroshige traveled alone to Kyoto via the Tokaido, a highway along the Pacific coast, as a governmental messenger. His series Tokaido Gojusantsugi (Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido), based on sights he had seen during this journey, became popular and won him fame as a landscape artist.
Tokaido Gojusantsugi: Nihonbashi Asa no Kei (Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido: Morning Scene at Nihonbashi)
Early in the morning, a daimyo's (lord's) procession crosses the Nihonbashi bridge as it begins its journey. Peddlers can also be seen carrying fish they have bought at a nearby fish market.
Tokaido Gojusantsugi: Kanbara Yoru no Yuki (Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido: Night Snow at Kanbara)
People bend low as they hurry along in the thick snow. This is a masterpiece depicting the relationship between people and nature.
Tokaido Gojusantsugi: Shono Hakuu (Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido: White Rain at Shono)
A sudden shower causes the bamboo grove to sway wildly. Men are seen running up the hill with a palanquin. Designs like this one, with a strong sense of movement, are unusual for Hiroshige.
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