Our Art / Utagawa Hiroshige / Suijin Shrine and Massaki on the Sumida River

Suijin Shrine and Massaki on the Sumida River by Utagawa Hiroshige
Suijin Shrine and Massaki on the Sumida River by Utagawa Hiroshige

Suijin Shrine and Massaki on the Sumida River, 1856

Utagawa Hiroshige

The elaborate cherry blossoms in this print’s foreground catch your eye first. Since Japanese writing is read from right to left, viewers would tend to read this scene that way; hence the dramatic framing on the right. This scene shows a river shrine in the grove of trees on the banks of the Sumida River, Tokyo’s most important river. But in spite of the restful landscape, and the print’s title, the extravagant cherry blossoms are undoubtedly the main subject. This landscape print follows the theme of “ukiyo-e,” or “pictures of the floating world,” nostalgic views of restful rural settings at a time of rapid urbanization in Japan.

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Credit
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
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