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A free museum dedicated to Ukiyo-e in Fujisawa

Ukiyo-e art in Fujisawa

Sponsored by Fujisawa City Tourist Association

If you are an art lover without a dime, you will be pleased to hear about the free ukiyo-e museum located in Fujisawa city. The term ukiyo-e can be translated as “picture(s) of the floating world”. The ukiyo-e artists produced woodblock prints on popular subjects (such as kabuki actors, history and folk tales, travel scenes and landscapes).

You can get to Fujisawa from Tokyo by train. The museum is a five-minute walk from the Tsujido JR station. When you arrive in the building, take the elevator to the 7th floor.

Indications at the entrance of the building and the museum.
The Signboard at the entrance of the building and the museum.

The “53 Stations of the Tōkaidō” section

The first room of the museum is dedicated to the 53 stations of the Tōkaidō, a popular subject among the Edo (17-19 centuries) ukiyo-e artists. The Tōkaidō road was the main travel and transport artery of old Japan, linking the shōgun’s capital of Edo (the current Tokyo), to the imperial capital in Kyōto.

Interestingly the 6th station of the road was Fujisawa!

During the Edo period, there was a fish market by the Nihonbashi Bridge, the starting point of the Tōkaidō road. The Edo people’s favorite local fish was bonito. A kite is stealing a man’s bonito. Artist: Utagawa Yoshikazu.
During the Edo period, there was a fish market by the Nihonbashi Bridge, the starting point of the Tōkaidō road. The Edo people’s favorite local fish was bonito. A kite is stealing a man’s bonito. Artist: Utagawa Yoshikazu.

The Tōkaidō was one of the Five Routes (a series of roads linking the Edo with the rest of Japan) constructed under Tokugawa Ieyasu. It travelled along the eastern coast of Honshū – thus giving rise to the name Tōkaidō (“Eastern Sea Road”) – on almost 500 kilometers. Incidentally, this is where the shinkansen route between Tokyo and Osaka gets its name. Along this road, there were 53 different post stations, which provided stables, food and lodging for travelers. Most of the time, people traveling by foot took 2 weeks to travel the road.

The 6th station. The landmark of Fujisawa, Yugyo-ji temple is illustrated on the background. The figures in front are Oguri-Hangan, Princess Terute and a horse face figure Onikage, the Oguri’s horse. They are the legendary figures related to Fujisawa. Artist: Utagawa Yoshikazu.
The 6th station. The landmark of Fujisawa, Yugyo-ji temple is illustrated on the background. The figures in front are Oguri-Hangan, Princess Terute and a horse face figure Onikage, the Oguri’s horse. They are the legendary figures related to Fujisawa. Artist: Utagawa Yoshikazu.

 

Hiroshige and the Tōkaidō

After his first travel along the Tōkaidō in 1832, Hiroshige created his own version of the 53 stations of the Tōkaidō. 10 000 copies of the series were printed: a huge success that established Hiroshige as the most prominent and successful ukiyo-e artist of the Tokugawa era!

Another version of the 6th station in Fujisawa. You can see the Yugyo-ji bridge which still exists in Fujisawa today. Artist: Utagawa Hiroshige.
Another version of the 6th station in Fujisawa. You can see the Yugyo-ji bridge which still exists in Fujisawa today. Artist: Utagawa Hiroshige.

 

The “Fujisawa post station” section

Push the “English” button under the screen and sit comfortably. A short movie shows how Fujisawa’s historical places as represented in ukiyo-e have evolved. The current places are almost all located around the museum. It’s really interesting!

A short movie shows how Fujisawa’s historical places as represented in ukiyo-e have evolved.

 

 The “Enoshima island” section

During the Edo period, Enoshima Island was one of the most popular pilgrimage sites. It is common to find representations of Enoshima in ukiyo-e. This section gathers ukiyo-e works inspired by the island.

Pilgrim women on the road to Enoshima island. Artist: Utagawa Kunisada.
Pilgrim women on the road to Enoshima island. Artist: Utagawa Kunisada.

The “Special exhibition” section

In this section, you will find temporary exhibitions on various subjects related to ukiyo-e. When I visited the museum, the exhibition was on the sugoroku (literally “double six”), a popular board game from the Edo period. This game was printed on a large piece of paper that travelers rolled-up to play anywhere on the road. Most of the ukiyo-e artists made their own version of sugoroku. Today, those board are considered as pieces of art and a primary source of the Edo period as they often represent daily life scenes.

Sugoroku board game - Theme : perambulating along the Tōkaidō, each square represents one of the 53 post stations. Format: 53,4 × 74,8 cm. Artist: Utagawa Hiroshige
Sugoroku board game – Theme : perambulating along the Tōkaidō, each square represents one of the 53 post stations. Format: 53,4 × 74,8 cm. Artist: Utagawa Hiroshige

The recreational section

In this section, you will find touch panels with information on several ukiyo-e prints from the museum collection. You can zoom in and enjoy further descriptions (albeit only in Japanese). You can also read and browse books and catalogues that introduce the local history of Fujisawa city, ukiyo-e and Edo period culture. A little exhibition shows how to make an ukiyo-e print, from woodblock carving and coloring to printing. If you are interested in making your own ukiyo-e, you can check the workshops and events organized by the museum on their website!

Information section at Fujisawa ukiyo-e museum

Enoshima object

Ukiyo-e tool

 

 

 

Access

  • 5 minutes-walk from Tsujido JR station (North exit)
  • 1 minute-walk from Kandai Koen-mae bus station

Website : http://fujisawa-ukiyoekan.net/en/index.html


Do you plan to visit the museum before February 19? You should check our articles about Yugyo-ji temple and Enoshima winter illuminations!

    
Name Fujisawa ukiyo-e museum
Category Museum
Address 7F 2 Chome-2-2 Tsujidōkandai Fujisawa-shi, Kanagawa-ken 251-0041 Japan
Access
7F 2 Chome-2-2 Tsujidōkandai Fujisawa-shi, Kanagawa-ken 251-0041 Japan
Opening Hours 10:00 - 19:00 (Last admission 18:30) - Close on monday and on New Year national holidays
Price Range Free
Payment options