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Hara, no. 14 from the series Fifty-three Pairs for the Tokaido Road

Hara, no. 14 from the series Fifty-three Pairs for the Tokaido Road

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Utagawa Hiroshige

Fifty-three Parallels for the Tokaido was a collaborative project, with Hiroshige, Kunisada, and Kuniyoshi contributing individual designs. This print by Hiroshige includes a scene from The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. The story follows the legendary life of Princess Kaguya, who as an infant was discovered in a bamboo stalk by a bamboo cutter. Believed to have descended from the moon, she matured into a lady of great beauty and refinement. Word of her beauty spread quickly and five courtly princes, as well as the emperor himself, visited her home to request her hand in marriage. She rebuffed all advances and returned to her home on the moon, leaving behind a letter and elixir of life for the emperor. In his grief, the emperor ordered that the letter and elixir be thrown into the burning mouth of Mt. Fuji. In Hiroshige’s depiction, the “old bamboo cutter” stands guard at the gate, surrounded by snow-covered bamboo, with his daughter Princess Kaguya sequestered in the house near a table of printed books. The text in the title cartouche states that of the fifty-three stations, Hara is the best for viewing Mt. Fuji. It also includes a description of Princess Kaguya that likens her beauty to the purity of snow.
Utagawa Hiroshige
(Japanese, 1797 - 1858)
Hara, no. 14 from the series Fifty-three Pairs for the Tokaido Road
Color woodcut
350 x 224 mm Overall
Bequest of John H. Van Vleck
Accession No.


By 1925, purchased in Japan by Frank Lloyd Wright; ca. 1926, acquired by The Bank of Wisconsin; 1928, sold to Edward Burr Van Vleck (Madison, WI); 1943, passed through inheritance to Edward’s son, John H. Van Vleck (Madison, WI); 9 January 1980, bequeathed by John H. Van Vleck to the Elvehjem Museum of Art [now called Chazen Museum of Art]

  • Mueller, Laura. "Competition and Collaboration: Japanese Prints of the Utagawa School." Leiden, The Netherlands: Hotei Publishing, 2007. p. 164, no. 146

  • Competition and Collaboration: Japanese Prints of the Utagawa School: Chazen Museum of Art, 11/3/2007–1/6/2008

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