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Maple Trees at Mama, Tekona Shrine and Linked Bridge Mama no momiji Tekona no yashiro Tsugihashi
|| New reproduction
||260mm x 390mm
Mama was over ten miles east of central Edo, on the far side of the Edogawa River in the present city of Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, but the beauty of its autumn maples was such that it was worth the trip. In earlier times, the fame centered on a particular tree of great size, but the Edo meisho zue account of 1836 (vol. VII) relates that only the stump remained. Hiroshige, however, may possibly be alluding to this one tree in his use of a single large forked trunk to frame the view. At any rate, the foliage of the surviving trees in the precincts of the Nichiren temple of Guhoji assured the continuing scenic fame of Mama, as the artist emphasizes with the dominant leaves in the center foreground-their glorious orange color unfortunately blackened with age. Beyond the maple trees of Mama lie the shrine and bridge mentioned in the title. These were famous places of an older sort, less important as actual sites to be visited than as places that for centuries had enjoyed a life of their own in Japanese literature. The literary fame of Mama dates back to Japan's first great poetry anthology, the Man ydsnu-particularly to the tale of Tekona, the beautiful country maid who was so harassed by suitors that she threw herself into the waters of Mama in desperation. Takahashi Mushimaro told her story: She walked unshod, her hair uncombed, And yet no high-born damsel dressed in rich brocade Compared with this country girl. When she stood smiling like a flower, Her face like the full moon, Many were the suitors seeking her, As summer moths the fire, As ships in haste the harbor. Why did she wish to die When life is but a breath? She laid herself in her grave, The river-mouth, under the noisy surf. (Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkokai translation) Many centuries later, in 1501, the seventh abbott of Guhoji consecrated the small shrine to Tekona that Hiroshige has depicted here to the lower left, partly hidden by the tree trunk. In Hiroshige's time, the shrine had progressed from a literary to a religious landmark, and the worship of Tekona was believed to aid in childbirth and in the cure of chicken pox. The shrine survives today, much as it appears here, although the surrounding area is now densely settled. In the center of the print, beyond Tekona Shrine, is another legacy of the Man yoshu, the Linked Bridge of Mama over which one of Tekona's suitors came to woo her. The Edo meisho zue reports two theories of the name Tsugihashi- that it was a small bridge linking two larger bridges, or that planks resting on either shore were linked at the center by a supporting beam. Neither theory fits the bridge as shown by Hiroshige. The poetic memory of the name as first used in the Man'yoshu was at any rate far more important: Would there were a horse That could travel with silent feet! Then, over the jointed bridge of Mama In Katsushika, I'd come to you Night after night. The forms of the distant mountains shown here are virtually identical to those of the Nikko Range and Mount Tsukuba as depicted elsewhere, but this makes no topographical sense, since the view here is to the south. Kohiyama has proposed that these mountains are on the Chiba Peninsula, with Mount Nokogiri on the right. But the form is indisputably that of Mount Tsukuba, and I would suggest that Hiroshige has contravened topographical realities in order to incorporate a further reference to the Man'yoshu, in which the two major accounts of the story of Tekona (in Books III and IX) are preceded by poems about climbing Mount Tsukuba. Hiroshige has thus "quoted" the form of Mount Tsukuba to indicate its literary proximity to Mama. .
Smith H.D and Poster A.G., Hiroshige, One Hundred Famous views of Edo., George Braziller Inc., 1st edn., 4th reprint , 1986Summary Page | Home | landscapes | Previous Picture | Next Picture |