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Artist: Keisai Eisen (渓斎英泉)

Print: Fujikawa Station (藤川宿), #38 (三十八)
from the series Beauties of the Tokaidō

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Dates: 1843 - 1845,created
Dimensions: 9.5 in,14.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print
Inscription:

Signed: Keisai Eisen ga (渓斉英泉画)
Publisher: Tsutaya Kichizō (Marks 556 - 03-004)
Censor's seal: Tanaka

Related links: Tobacco and Salt Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Fujikawa shops and inns by Hiroshige; Google maps - Fujikawachō;

Physical description:

According to the Tobacco and Salt Museum the full series of this set of prints was never completed. They speculated that the final examples were cancelled.

It is interesting that the example in the Tobacco and Salt Museum does not have the bottom half of the title cartouche finished showing the number 38 as does the this one in the Lyon Collection. So, despite their speculation about the series never being completed it does appear that there may have been more than one edition of the ones that were produced.

Many Japanese artists gave us representations of the Fujikawa Station or its environs. These include everyone from Hokusai and Hiroshige through to Kyōsai and others. Most of these prints focus on the station itself or the landscape nearby, but some include figures of travellers or shopkeepers and their support staffs. A few of the Fujikawa images are humorous, while others are metaphorical. But only Eisen's representations seem to stand apart from all of the others: here he has focused on a delicious beauty - possibly a lower class prostitute - who is relaxing in a languorous manner, lying by her tobacco pipe and her tabakobon or tobacco tray. Two of the fingers of her left hand gingerly hold open a page of a book she is reading while she stares off into space lost in thought. Only Eisen would take this station of the Tokaidō as an excuse to present us with a remarkably beautiful young woman. Such representations were among Eisen's forte and we are richer for it.