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Kisokaido: Nagakubo - Station 27

 Utagawa Hiroshige - Series of the 69 stations of the Kisokaido: Station Nagakubo (28th print) (Nagakubo)          © Trustees of the British Museum


After Kasadori pass, the road followed a gentle slope towards Nagakubo and the valley of the Yoda-gawa river. Hiroshige set his scene on the Wada bridge on the Yoda-gawa river, past Nagakubo station, towards the difficult Wada pass. In the foreground, two children (1) play with a dog and beyond, a traveller and his horse are walking towards the inn. The saddlecloth (2) is decorated with Iseya Rihei’s publisher seal which is also in the left margin (3). The roof of the inn is constructed in a style peculiar to the district with stones on the tiles to secure them when the strong winds of the fifth month are blowing. On the Wada bridge, silhouetted against the light of the moon rising over the range of the mountains in the distance, three travelled, one of them mounted proceed on their journey. Behind them , a single man on foot approaches the station. The block of the central pine (4) appears to have been printed twice, slightly off-key to suggest the pine needles shimmering in the moonlight. The river runs shallow here and several shoals indicated in dark blue, can be seen below the surface.

This print has seen five major modifications: The first edition does not have mountains in the background; they were added in the second printing. In the third printing (as can be seen here), the far railing (5) of the bridge is missing. On the left is an enlargement of the first edition with both railings. The mountains on the right are missing n the 4th printing and all are totally missing in the 5th edition.

(Source: The 69 stations of the Kisokaido, Sebastian Izzard, Brazillier 2008)


The bridge with the back railing in the first edition (Reproduction from Kyoto Hanga-in)


And now ?

          A bridge in the Nagano mountains ca. 1880                                                                                                        Nagakubo ca. 1880

After Kasadori pass and before Wada pass, Nagakubo station is at 188km/115mi from Nihonbashi. It was an important station between these two difficulties where travellers could rest as can be seen in this 1880 picture, By 1840, there were 187 buildings with one honjin, one waki-honjin and 43 inns. The bridge of the print has been replaced by a modern one in concrete. In the village, the former honjin is now a museum, well worth a visit. In this part of the country, thatched roofs are more common and even the bus stop has one.

Arrival at Nagakubo, the paddy fields and the bridge, as in the print

Old inn in Nagakubo

Nagakubo: The entrance of the old inn

Nagakubo: The main room of the old inn. Note the tatamis around the earth

The earth in the old inn

Nagakubo: Kitchen of the old inn

Former honjin in Nagakubo. Note the traditional roof with the stones on the tiles, as in the print

Nagakubo: Bus stop with thatched roof

View of Nagakubo from the foot of the road towards Wada pass


Takahashi Hiroaki (Shotei) - Full moon on Hakozaki bridge (ca. 1920)

Takahashi Hiroaki (Shotei) - Rain on Izumi bridge (ca. 1923)