Hiroshige II, Poem of Cherry Blossoms, Thirty Six Views of the Eastern Capital


Artist: Hiroshige II Utagawa (1829-1869)
Title: Poem of Cherry Blossoms in Full Bloom at Ueno
Series: Thirty-Six Views of the Eastern Capital
Publisher: Ai-To
Date: 1862
Dimensions: 25.1 x 37 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print. 


From a raised viewpoint, the viewer looks down at the temple grounds of Kan’ei-ji, an important temple for the ruling warrior class during the Edo period. Founded in 1625, the temple was exclusively used by family members of the Tokugawa shogunate for their burial rites. Kan’ei-ji’s relevance to the Tokugawa family is emphasised by its primary figure of worship, Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of medicine. Upon Tokugawa Ieyasu’s death, the founding figure of the shogunate became deified as a Buddha by his family and subjects. Through his actions of unifying a nation that was fundamentally divided, he was regarded as Japan’s very own medicine Buddha.


Although the country was finally united, the shift of power from the previous capital of Kyoto to the young city of Edo sparked a constant rallying between the two cities. Kyoto represented the old elite and the emperor, whereas the recently established city had to create its own cultural capital resulting in a mimicking of Kyoto’s famous sites in Edo. The venerated temple of Enryaku-ji, situated atop Mt. Hiei towering over the old capital, can be seen here emulated in the grounds of Ueno, providing the samurai class with their own religious property equal to that of the emperor’s own city.

Hiroshige II Utagawa (1826 - 1869)

In the genre of Japanese art, Hiroshige II Utagawa was a woodblock print artist best known for continuing the tradition of Hiroshige I Utagawa in producing landscape prints. Born in Edo (today’s Tokyo), many details of his formative years are unknown, except that he became a pupil of Hiroshige I under the name of Shigenobu. Hiroshige II produced a large number of commissioned work in the 1850s in the style of the elder Hiroshige, and often signed his work ‘Ichiryusai mon’ (student of Ichiryusai, another art name of Hiroshige).

He seems to have married Hiroshige’s daughter Otatsu and inherited Hiroshige’s name following his death in 1858. In 1865 he moved from Edo to Yokohama after dissolving his marriage and began using the name Kisai Rissho. During this decade he produced a number of collaborative print series, particularly with Kunisada, who had earlier worked with Hiroshige I.

His works have often been confounded with those of Hiroshige I, resembling them closely in style, subject, and even signature, particularly in series such as ‘One Hundred Famous Views in the Various Provinces’ (1859-61) that echo his master’s ‘Famous Views of the Sixty-odd Provinces’ (1853-56). ‘One Hundred Famous Views of Edo’ (1856-58), also mainly completed by Hiroshige I, was finished by Hiroshige II following the former’s death. While the signature on this series of prints remain the same, the later designs show stylistic resemblance to those of Hiroshige II. The artist’s other notable series include ‘Eight Views of the Sumida River’ (1861) and ‘Thirty-six Views of the Eastern Capital’ (1861-62).

More Information
Print FormatOban (Vertical)
ArtistHiroshige II Utagawa (1826 - 1869)
Size37 x 25.2 cm
Condition ReportSome pinholes and wormholes. Stains at the bottom. Residue paper on the back.
SeriesThirty Six Views of the Eastern Capital::Hiroshige II Utagawa