The Sixty-nine Post Stations of the Kisokaidô Road, Part I

(Kisokaidô rokujűku tsugi, 木曾街道六十九次之内)

1852-1853

 

The Kisokaidô Road was an inland route connecting Edo (present day Tokyo) with Kyoto.  (The costal route between Edo and Kyoto was the Tôkaidô Road).  There were sixty-nine rest stops along the Kisokaidô Road.  In this series, Kuniyoshi designed one print for each of the sixty-nine rest stops plus prints for Edo and Kyoto, as well as a title page.  The main design of each print portrays a historical, legendary of fictional scene associated with the location.  A small panel in each print shows a view of the station.  Most of the prints are numbered, but there are slight inconsistencies in the numbering.  The prints in this series are each about 14 by 10 inches (36 by 25 centimeters), a size known as ôban.

 

Title page

Number on print: none

Publisher: Minato-ya Kohei

Robinson: S74.1

 

NOTE: The sake barrel wrapped in straw is inscribed Edo jiman Nihon ichi (Pride of Edo, unique in Japan), which was almost certainly a paid advertisement.  I am grateful to Ward Pieters for locating this image.

 

Station: Nihonbashi (bridge at the origin of the Kisokaidô Road)

Number on print: 1

Main scene: Sumô wrestlers Nuregami Katsunosuke and Ukiyo Watabei quarrelling on the Nihonbashi watched by Ashikaga Yorikane

Insert: street scene

Publisher: Tsujioka-ya Bunsuke

Robinson: S74.2

 

 

Station: Itabashi (板橋)

Number on print: 2

Main scene: Inudzuka Shino holding on to a tree in the water while Sabojirô swims towards him and Totarô sits on a boat in the background (a scene from Bakin’s novel Hakkenden)

Insert: river scene

Publisher: Sumiyoshi-ya Masagorô

Robinson: S74.3

 

Station: Warabi ()

Number on print: 3

Main scene: Inuyama Dôsetsu seated amid flames with a magic pine branch wrapped in paper in his mouth

Insert: village road

Publisher: Izutsu-ya Shôkichi

Robinson: S74.4

 

Station: Urawa (浦和)

Number on print: 4

Main scene: Uoya (fishmonger) Danshichi (魚屋團七) emptying a bucket of water over himself to clean off mud

Insert: uphill road

Publisher: Sumiyoshi-ya Masagorô

Robinson: S74.5

 

Station: Ômiya (大宮)

Number on print: 5

Main scene: The captive rebel Abe no Munetô kneeling before Minister Fujiwara no Mitsuyori

Insert: roadside teahouse

Publisher: Takeda-ya Takezô

Robinson: S74.6

 

Station: Ageo (上尾)

Number on print: 6

Main scene: The actor Bandô Shuka as the courtesan Miura no Takao being weighed against oval gold coins, some stacked and wrapped in paper

Insert: village and rice paddies

Publisher: Hayashi-ya Shôgorô

Robinson: S74.7

 

Station: Okegawa (桶川)

Number on print: 7

Main scene: Tamaya Shimbei imprisoned in a huge wooden tub being given a drink by a girl under the direction of Kojorô

Insert: landscape with pine trees

Publisher: Sumiyoshi-ya Masagorô

Robinson: S74.8

 

Station: Kônosu (鴻巣)

Number on print: none

Main scene: Musashi no Kami Moronao in the snow being hustled off to a hiding place under firewood

Insert: roadside village with distant hills

Publisher: Yahata-ya Sakujirô

Robinson: S74.9

 

Station: Kumagaya (熊谷)

Number on print: 9

Main scene: Kojirô Nao-ie armored and mounted at the base of a castle wall on the shore of a lake

Insert: road with bearers carrying a palanquin

Publisher: Yahata-ya Sakujirô

Robinson: S74.10

 

Station: Fukaya (深谷)

Number on print: 10

Main scene: Yuriwaka Daijin shooting with his huge bow before two dumfounded spectators

Insert: road with rest house and pine trees

Publisher: Kaga-ya Yasubei

Robinson: S74.11

 

Station: Honjô (本庄)

Number on print: 11

Main scene: Shirai Gompachi sheathing his sword with a purse in his mouth in the rain

Insert: roadside village with marsh behind

Publisher: Minato-ya Kohei

Robinson: S74.12

 

Station: Shimmachi (新町)

Number on print: 12

Main scene: encounter of Gokumon Shôhei and Kurofune Chűemon on a bridge

Insert: distant mountain across a lake

Publisher: Ise-ya Kanekichi

Robinson: S74.13

 

Station: Kuragano (倉加野)

Number on print: 13

Main scene: the bandit Jiraiya with two followers seated by a fire under a huge pine tree

Insert: hilly road through mountains

Publisher: Sumiyoshi-ya Masagorô

Robinson: S74.14

 

Station: Takazaki (高崎)

Number on print: 14

Main scene: Konomura Ôinosuke holding an unrolled painting of a hawk on a pine branch from which the hawk comes to life and flies off

Insert: village at the foot of a mountain

Publisher: Yahata-ya Sakujirô

Robinson: S74.15

 

Station: Itahana (板花)

Number on print: 15

Main scene: Onzôshi Ushiwaka Maru discomfiting two tengu at fencing

Insert: trees and a cloud-shrouded mountain

Publisher: Hayashi-ya Shôgorô

Robinson: S74.16

 

NOTE: Tengu are forest-dwelling creatures that are either human-like with wings and long noses or bird-like.

 

 

Another state of the above design printed with different colors

 

Station: Annaka (安中)

Number on print: 16

Main scene: Seigen the monk praying to Fudô, sees a vision of his beloved Sakura-hime

Insert: moonlit village with distant hills

Publisher: Kaga-ya Yasubei

Robinson: S74.17

 

Station: Matsuida (松井田)

Number on print: 17

Main scene: Matsui Minjirô watching two snakes in a river with Yama-uba seated on a rock

Insert: trees, rice paddies and distant mountains

Publisher: Tsujioka-ya Bunsuke

Robinson: S74.18

 

Station: Sakamoto (坂本)

Number on print: 18

Main scene: samurai and child on a road near a teahouse in Gojôzaka

Insert: man leading a horse along a mountain road

Publisher: Minato-ya Kohei

Robinson: S74.19

 

Station: Karuizawa (軽井澤) 

Number on print: 19

Main scene: Kamada Matahachi (鎌田叉八) at the base of a huge red temple-pillar

Insert: Road amid hills with band of mist

Publisher: Takeda-ya Takezô

Robinson: S74.20

 

Station: Kutsukake

Number on print: 20

Main scene: The Han Dynasty hero Chôryô (Chang Liang) fitting a shoe he retrieved from the river on Kôsekikô

Insert: mountain with band of mist and rooftops in the foreground

Publisher: Ise-ya Kanekichi

Robinson: S74.21

 

Station: Oiwake (追分)

Number on print: 21

Main scene: The deformed O-Iwa squeezing blood from a hank of her hair watched by her husband Ieyoshi

Insert: travelers on a road through rice paddies under a full moon

Publisher: Takeda-ya Takezô

Robinson: S74.22

  

NOTE: O-Iwa  was married to a man named Iemon.  A wealthy lady fell in love with Iemon, and he fell in love with her money.  Iemon had his servant poison O-Iwa.  She became weak, lost her hair and her face became deformed.  She was then treated cruelly by the people around her, and she died holding a grudge against them.  After her death many strange things happened, and all of the people who had mistreated her died.

 

Station: Odai (小田井)

Number on print: 22

Main scene: Teranishi Kanshin, his kimono patterned with skeletons, standing by a tied up bearer and three barrels of sake

Insert: a road among hills and pine trees at sunset

Publisher: Ise-ya Kanekichi

Robinson: S74.23

 

Station: Iwamurata (岩村田)

Number on print: 23

Main scene: The strong woman Ôiko damming a river with a boulder

Insert: rice paddies and distant mountains with a band of mist

Publisher: Kaga-ya Yasubei

Robinson: S74.24

 

Station: Shionada

Number on print: 24

Main scene: Torii Matasuke wringing out his loincloth and holding a severed head in his teeth

Insert: evening landscape with mountains, trees and fields

Publisher: Tsujioka-ya Bunsuke

Robinson: S74.25

 

“Robinson” refers to listing in Kuniyoshi: The Warrior-Prints by Basil William Robinson (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 1982) and its privately published supplement.

 

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