The Tokaido Hiroshige Museum 東海道広重美術館
The spirit of ukiyoe
A small town on the way between Tokyo and Kyoto, near Shizuoka. A place without anything really special about it, and yet it's here that a museum, dedicated to the artist Hiroshige, was built.
The views of Tokaido
It's a place closely related to Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), master of printmaking. The museum is located along the old Tokaido Road, which connected Edo (Tokyo) to Kyoto. The painter has represented all the landscapes of this road, and in particular the landscape of the Sattatoge Pass and its view of Mount Fuji, which is one of the most famous Japanese prints.
A small educational museum
The museum is located on the site of an old inn reserved for the nobility and keeps the original wall and garden. The entrance is guarded by freshwater turtles who eye you suspiciously as you pass.
The museum is small but contains the first editions of the 53 Hiroshige Tokaido stations. The museum is especially worth seeing for its didactic approach, which allows you to understand the production of a woodblock print from A to Z. You'll see the images carved into wood to enable repeated printing for mass distribution. Tools, colors, choice of subject, everything is explained.
The spirit of ukiyo-e
You can also discover the hidden meaning behind some of his works, which sometimes contain references incomprehensible to the average person, rebuses indicating names of places, and even jokes. Ukiyo-e (Japanese prints) can often contain saucy connotations, a far cry from their image of elegant landscapes and much closer to the banter and spirit of the small people of Edo - who constituted his main audience.
The museum also offers the possibility of making your own print, by printing plates reproducing the images of Hiroshige. It will cost 300 yen to leave with a real print ,created by you.
The museum is a fun and family-friendly stop for those exploring Tokaido or stopping at Shizuoka.