Tôkaidô Hiroshige Museum of Art in Yui, or Ukiyo-e loved around the world / by Saki

Hello ! Welcome to our blog 🙂

Here’s Saki, from Local Travel Partners !

Following our previous post on the Satta Pass, today we will go to the Tôkaidô Hiroshige Museum of Art located in Yui. 

The Shizuoka City Tôkaidô Hiroshige Museum of Art is the first art museum in Japan to be named after the Edo period ukiyo-e artist, Hiroshige UTAGAWA (1797-1858). The museum opened in 1994 in the Yui honjin park, on the very site of the 16th post of the Tôkaidô road starting from Nihonbashi. It is called the Yui post -or Yuijuku-. The Tôkaidô road was the main road to travel from the East capital Edo to the West capital Kyôto during that time. It was one of the five highways created by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA in the Edo period. Tôkaidô has 53 lodgings, which are called “the Tôkaidô 53 stations”. You will find further explanation about this special road in the Satta pass article, if you’re interested 🙂

On the left, you can see the entrance of the Yuijuku with the museum in grey at the back. On the right, there is the big garden of the Yui honjin park, and its guard tower.

The museum is located on Yui‘s main road. Along the way, there are many places that leave an impression of the Edo period.
Outside the Yui Honjin Park, there is a small pit that follow the fence, with a dozen of turtle in it. When we passed by, they were enjoying sunbathing on the rocks at their disposal. The water point used to be the place where horses drank when the travelers rested at the Yui post.

In front of the Yuijuku, there is also a traditional shop of Japanese Aizome 藍染め or ingigo dyeing : the 正雪紺屋 -Masayuki Konya-. Inside the shop, you can still find the traditional object used to dye, from the vat where indigo was fermented to the bamboo net. They used it till 60 years ago, at the time of the grandparents of the  actual owner !

 

Now, let’s get back to the museum and its surroundings ! 

Inside the park, we first went to the Yui Honjin exchange hall, made of wood. It smells really good inside ! There are four areas in the hall : the culture area, the tourism area, a rest area, and a shop. The facility is used for various purposes as a place to discover the history of Yui for visitors like us, to find tourist information, and it is also a place of interaction within the community.

You can pose with a happi coat in the ukiyo-e decor of the Nihonbashi post of the Fifty-three stations of the Tôkaidô ! Each character expresses a distinct emotion, it is interesting to see it closely.
There is also a model of Yui village during the Edo period. It was nice going down the street after seeing the model and see how the town changed or stayed unchanged till today.

On our way to the museum ! Concerning the museum, no picture were allowed inside. You will have to visit 😉

 

Memoril portrait of Hiroshige (from wikipedia)

Who is Hiroshige UTAGAWA ?

(Above is the memorial portrait of Hiroshige by another ukiyo-e artist Kunisada.)

Hiroshige UTAGAWA (1797-1858) is considered the last great master of the traditional art of ukiyo-e. He produced more than 8000 works in his lifetime.  He was a member of the Utagawa school and began with common ukiyo-e theme such as woman or actor. Then started to produce landscape ukiyo-e -or meisho-e 名所絵- in his thirties. This subject was unusual in this art and he excelled in it. The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidô, drawn after his actual travel from Edo to Tokyo, was the beginning of his success.
His works are highly regarded in Europe and in the United States for their beauty in blue, especially indigo. It was called “Japan blue”, sometimes even “Hiroshige blue” ! Monet or Van Gogh, both were captivated by his art.

About 1,400 items, centering on masterpieces of landscape prints are stored in the Tôkaidô Hiroshige museum of Art ! It includes Hiroshige‘s “Fifty three station of the Tôkaidô” (Hoeidou version), “Kiso Kaido Rokumi Kujinouchi” and “Hundred Views of Edo”.

Here are some of the ukiyo-e of the famous “Fifty three station of the Tôkaidô” (Hoeidou version – 1833). Hiroshige was a master in the use of bokashi or color gradation, as you can see on the second print. It is a technique that require lot of efforts and time. The third print shows the winter under the snow of Kanbara, a place where snow is really rare. This representation comes out of the artist imagination, maybe out of his impression of the place.

 

The museum puts a lot of efforts to spread “new ukiyo-e culture”. Special exhibitions that connects ukiyo-e and contemporary works are being held. In order to enjoy the splendor of ukiyo-e art from a new perspective, the exhibition changes every month and a variety of special exhibitions are focusing on the collections. In addition, related projects such as lectures and gallery talks are planned during the month.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the park. On this occasion, the museum was featuring the different collections of ukiyo-e of the Tôkaidô by Hiroshige UTAGAWA.

The place is composed of a large exhibition room, where the exposed prints are changed monthly. There is also a room for basic knowledge of ukiyo-e and a guidance room. From the process to make an ukiyo-e to the humour used in ukiyo-e by the artist, we could deepen our understanding of Edo culture there. 

In the museum entrance hall, you can experience the hanga-zuri, which is the printing method of ukiyo-e. It allows you to understand the ukiyo-e print technology ! For 300¥, you can print by yourself two ukiyo-e : one will be the Yui-shuku print and the other one will change every three months. We did the Mariko post landscape this time. 

We could experience how color prints are completed, by painting colors one by one. It is interesting to see the change of the print each time you add a new color and it is a good souvenir to bring back those ukiyo-e you realised by yourself !
Here, there is still the red color left to add to complete this one !

 

On site, there is also a tea house : the Miyuki-tei. It is the Yui honjin memorial cottage. It is the reconstruction of the tatami floored cottage that was used by the Meiji Emperor (1852-1912). The cottage includes a room for tea ceremony, and a Japanese garden. If you book beforehand you can enjoy a matcha ceremony there !

 

After the museum, we went to a nice restaurant nearby : the Itutuya 井筒屋 !

We asked the Yui special lunch set with the sakura ebi fritters and the sakura shrimp flavored rice bowl. The host are used to receive foreigner customers and they really paid attention to our needs !

Yui is actually known in Japan for the fishing of sakura shrimp –sakura ebi-. If you want to taste the sakura shrimp fritters -or sakura ebi kakiage-, the best are in Yui ! There is even a sakura shrimp road !

Every year a sakura shrimp festival is being held !

 

If you are interested in ukiyo-e, this museum is a must-go ! On your way, you will surely appreciate the road people took on their Tôkaidô travel and the reminiscent of the Edo period landscape !

 

♦〈Hours and fees to the Tôkaidô Hiroshige Museum of Art〉♦

  • Opening hours are from 9:00 to 17:00. You can enter up to 30 minutes before closing.
  • It is closed every Monday. Except it is a national bank holiday. In that case, it will close the following day.
  • The entrance fee, starting October 2019, is 520¥ for adult – 310¥ for students – 130¥ for middle school and primary scholl students.

♦〈Access to the Tôkaidô Hiroshige Museum of Art〉♦

  • By Taxi or by Car from Yui JR station, it takes around 5 minutes to the museum
  • By foot, it takes around 25 minutes from Yui JR station (2 kilometers).
  • If you come by shinkansen, from Kyôto-Osaka, get off at the Shizuoka station and it takes 20 minutes on the JR Tôkaidô line from Shizuoka to Yui. If your shinkansen arrives from Tôkyô, get off at the Mishima station and it takes 40 minutes on the JR Tôkaidô line from Mishima to Yui.

 

You can include the Museum to your tour in Shizuoka ! 

Please contact us if you are interested ! 🙂

 

 

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