Utagawa Hiroshige, 'Suidō Bridge and Surugadai' (Suidōbashi Surugadai), a colour woodblock print


British Museum

British Museum

The kites are for the Boy's Festival on the 5th day of the fifth month (mid-summer). The leaping carp is a symbol of manly perseverance, and are shown here in exaggerated scale, seeming artificially stuck into the landscape. They rise higher than the samurai district of Surugadai across Suidō Bridge, higher than Edo Castle (left) and higher even than Mt Fuji itself.

The series 'One Hundred Famous Views of Edo' of 1856-58 (which actually overran to 118 designs), was the final, crowning achievement to Hiroshige's career. Twenty-one of the views included Mt Fuji seen on the distant horizon and three more featured the artificial hills constructed in various locations in Edo (modern Tokyo) as 'mini-Fujis' by members of the Fuji-kō (the Fuji cult). This was a self-help confraternity (brotherhood) which encouraged pilgrimage, rituals and prayers devoted to Fuji. One account of 1825 claimed as many as 70,000 devotees. The mini-Fujis were artificial Fuji-shaped hills set in parks which allowed the infirm (or lazy) to engage in a substitute pilgrimage - or simply to enjoy them as a kind of theme park.

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  • Title: Utagawa Hiroshige, 'Suidō Bridge and Surugadai' (Suidōbashi Surugadai), a colour woodblock print
  • Date Created: 1857/1857
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 36.00cm; Width: 24.00cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: woodblock
  • Subject: landscape
  • Registration number: 1948,0410,0.72
  • Production place: Published in Japan
  • Producer: Print artist Utagawa Hiroshige. Published by Uoya Eikichi
  • Period/culture: Edo Period
  • Material: paper
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by Bergen, Henry