June 30, 2011
August 21, 2011
Robert F. Lange Foundation Gallery (21)
By the end of the 18th century, the city of Edo (Tokyo) had become one of the largest metropolises in the world, and was the center of Japanese politics, commerce and culture. Many Japanese dreamed of visiting the city at least once during their lifetimes. As a result, there were numerous guidebooks to the city, including lists that ranked Kabuki actors, famous courtesans and restaurants.
Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), a leading ukiyo-e artist who designed poetic Japanese landscape prints, also created a print series depicting fine restaurants in Edo. Hiroshige portrayed upscale places that served special meals, followed by tea ceremonies. The restaurants also functioned as meeting places for cultural activities hosted by connoisseurs. Hiroshige’s depictions, accompanied by his trademark beautiful landscapes, inspired even more people to travel to Edo to experience the sophisticated delights of the city for themselves.—SAWAKO TAKEMURA CHANG, ASSISTANT CURATOR OF JAPANESE ART & ROBERT F. LANGE FOUNDATION DIGITAL IMAGING PROJECT MANAGER