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Posts tagged nihonbashi

The making of a modern Ukiyo-e (浮世絵)

nihonbashi ukiyoe hiroshige

Creating a new ukiyo-e on a storefront in Nihonbashi (Tokyo, Japan)

On an unseasonably cold evening in late November, we came upon this man painting (I think) an original ukiyo-e in the Nihonbashi part of Tokyo. If you want to see the finished result you’ll need to roam the streets of Nihonbashi after (or before) business hours as this can only be seen when the shop is closed.

The location is approximately here.

Mitsui Main Building and Tower in Nihonbashi

There are few structures in Tokyo that go back more than 60 years. In fact, many, if not most, of the buildings built after the war wiped Tokyo almost clean have been replaced in the past few decades. Nihonbashi is old. With a history of over 400 years, some of the names haven’t changed, even if the buildings have.

The Mitsui Main Building, in the foreground of the photo, was built in 1929 after the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. It was built to last and did make it through the war. More than a decade ago the Mitsui Main Building became the first office building to be designated an important cultural asset in Japan. Just 5 years ago the Mitsui Tower was built behind it. The inside of both buildings are a spectacle. The Mitsui Memorial Museum inside is loaded with amazing works of art.

To the left of this photo is the Mitsukoshi Department Store (pictured on the left in this prior entry).

Mitsui Memorial Museum (三井記念美術館) – Part 2

Continuing from yesterday’s blog entry, the “Special Exhibition: Vision and Reminiscence of Edo – Masterpieces from the Takahashi Seiichiro Collection of Ukiyo-e Prints” was a lot of fun to stumble upon.

This next ukiyoe reminded me of another recent scene.

enoshima fujisawa

I didn’t take a photograph of Enoshima from the same angle drawn by Hiroshige in “The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō,” but I did take one, below, on the bridge out to Enoshima (江ノ島).

enoshima stone

And I took one looking back, to where Hiroshige did his drawing 180 years before, from the shrine at the top of the stairs on Enoshima. Much has changed on the landscape with 180 years of development, but you can still feel the ukiyoe if you visit the area on something other than a weekend or holiday.

fujisawa enoshima kamakura bridge

Finally, there was another ukiyoe (浮世絵), below, that was very fresh in my mind. We crossed Nihonbashi (日本橋) in order to get to the Mitsui Memorial Museum just a half hour before.

hiroshige nihonbashi

It, too, has changed (and yet not changed) in the subsequent centuries–especially with the freeway being built right over the top.

nihonbashi nihon bashi bridge japan tokyo

But some things are still there, even if in a slightly different format…

nishikawa nihonbashi since 1566

How many other department stores have been in business for more than 450 years?

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