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Suido Bridge and Surugadai (Suidobashi Surugadai) One Hundred Famous views of Edo
|| New reproduction
||220mm x 340mm
If one imagines this view without the three implausibly immense carp banners, it is a classic depiction of samurai Edo. We look to the southwest across the the Kanda River, over the gray expanse of the densest single concentration of samurai in the city, extending from Surugadai on the left through Bancho in the distance. Over Suido Bridge to the lower right passes an impressive samurai procession. The tall banners jutting up here and there-fukinagashi (military streamers), vertical nobori banners with celebratory inscriptions, and protraits of Shoki, the Demon-Queller of Chinese legend-indicate that the time is the Boy's Festival, the fifth day of the Fifth Month. Each of the samurai households flying such banners is celebrating a boy of age six or seven. In the very lower right corner, what appears to be a young samurai is carrying an oversize helmet, another Boy's Festival accoutrement.
We are reminded that Hiroshige himself was of samurai origin. He was of low rank, to be sure, but nonetheless a genuine hereditary retainer of the shogun, qualified to wear two swords and holding formal office within a bakufu fire brigade until age thirty-six. The black free-standing fire tower in the very center here, small but distinct, marks one of the ten bakufu brigades; Hiroshige's own barracks were rather to the east of the castle, but he was doubtless familiar with this part of town.
The three huge carps, by contrast, are marks of the chonin city and were used by commoners for the Boy's Festival in imitation of the military fukinagashi, which they were prohibited from flying. The paper (and in time silk) carps drew on a Chinese legend of a fish so strong and persistent that it could leap a waterfall-an image thought appropriate for young boys. This view thus seems to be a witty pictorial overlay of a chonin version of the Boy's Festival-a "tradition" that was in fact born during Hiroshige's adult years-against the samurai version that it mimicked; note how the three carps seem artificially stuck in place, as though not really part of the landscape.
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 |