Welcome to Tokaido Gojusantsugi!

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Welcome! I hope to show my Japanese and American friends why I am so enthusiastic about the travelers and traditions of Edo Period Japan (1615 - 1868) captured in woodblock prints by Ando Hiroshige.

On this site I will share with you the 55 prints designed in 1832-33 by Hiroshige. For each one I'll give you a little taste of the information I'm finding in my research on Edo travel, food, music, fairy tales, theater, legends, trade, religious practices, tourist traps and more. The series, Tokaido Gojusantsugi or The Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido focuses on the greatest of the five major highways of Edo Japan. The addition of prints for the start at Tokyo and the finish at Kyoto brings the total to 55.

Beginning in 1603 officials of the Tokugawa shogun regulated trade and travel on the Tokaido. There were 53 official stations which each had to provide horses, porters, food and lodging for travelers. Beginning in the 17th century, travel guides listed famous sites and regional delicacies for each of the Tokaido stations and many towns inbetween. Government officials, mail carriers, traders, priests, pilgrims, entertainers, and local folks traveled its storied 330 miles. Tokaido stations were the locations for poems, ribald songs, comic novels and kabuki plays.

The Tokaido or Great Eastern Seacoast Road was over 1,000 years old when Hiroshige accompanied a special procession of govenrment officials. They escorted a gift of white horses from the shogun in Tokyo (who held political power) to the emperor in Kyoto (who held spiritual power). Hiroshige was eager to see the famous sights of his country and he lovingly recorded the life of the common people. He returned with many sketches and worked with his publisher to create the series. It was so popular that the first run of 200 sets sold out in three hours. This was quite an investment as the prints were very high quality. Copies of the prints remain favorite souvenirs to this day.

Come along! I hope you'll enjoy your journey.

Helen Rindsberg
Adjunct Professor, University of Cincinnati


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