Along the Eastern Road: Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido features 55 revolutionary, color woodblock prints by Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858) depicting the scenic views along the famous “Eastern Road” that linked Edo (now Tokyo) with Kyoto, the ancient imperial capital of Japan. This popular series, known as the Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road, established Hiroshige’s reputation as the foremost artist of the topographical landscape in 19th-century Japan.
Hiroshige was trained in the tradition of the ukiyo-e—“floating world”—woodblock printmaking. In 1832, he journeyed along the historic Tokaido as part of an official delegation bearing gifts from the Shogun. He visited the 53 towns and villages that dotted the road, which provided lodging, refreshments, and souvenirs for travelers. The 310-mile route was traveled frequently by noblemen, merchants, religious pilgrims, and tourists, and required up to two weeks to complete the trip. Hiroshige stayed at each overnight station, where he recorded numerous views of the surrounding landscape, towns, and people.
Organized by the Reading Public Museum in Reading, Pennsylvania, this stunning exhibition presents the complete first edition of the Fifty-Three Stations, issued in 1833–1834, alongside a comparative impression from a later edition and a carved woodblock template.