Ukiyo-e Prints


Port Townsend, Washington





fl. 1850 - 70



Subject: View of the Suidōbashi at Ochanomizu





Series Title: Tōto Meisho



Size: 9 1/2" x 14 1/8"

Date: 6th Month, 1853

Kaei 6


Publisher: Izumiya Ichibei


いずみやいちべ え

Another copy of this print is shown on line at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts
web site. It is from the William Perkins Babcock bequest -
accession number 00.1412

Condition: Soiling, some foxing, unbacked, good color.







Details from the back of the Yoshikazu print.

The baren work is particularly distinctive in the image shown above.




Publisher's seal:

Izumiya Ichibei

  Date/censor seals: 6th month, 1853  

Artist's signature:

Ichijusai (?) Yoshikazu ga


Tōto Meisho:






Full frontal male nudity in Japanese prints other than the erotica is so rare as to be almost nonexistent.

The innocence of this figure is somewhat akin to that of the anatomically correct Ken doll.






Detail  shown above of the

Suidōbashi in winter by

Hiroshige II.

The detail  shown above

is of the

"Grand View of Ochanomizu"

by Hiroshige, but without

the aqueduct visible.




Another version above of

Ochanomizu by Hiroshige II.

Detail above of Ochanomizu by Hiroshige with fishermen.



Detail above of Ochanomizu by Hiroshige II from 1853.


This detail above is of a print by Kunisada is said to be of the Suidōbashi at Ochanomizu

in the mist.


The above detail is of boatmen

passing below the Suidōbashi

by Hiroshige.



And yet another detail above of a version of the aqueduct at Ochanomizu by Hiroshige

from 1858.

Toyokuni III Ochanomizu

detail below.


Hirokage detail above.



This detail above by

Kiyochika certainly

betrays its modernist feel.



Ochanomizu Means Tea Water

One of the joys of working with Japanese prints is not only the aesthetics, but also the mystery. As Rod Stewart said: "Every picture tells a story, don't it?" And sure enough this is true to the 'nth' degree when it comes to Ukiyo-e.


When I first purchased this print I wondered about the structure spanning the Kanda River. I didn't know that it was the Kanda at that point and certainly didn't know that it was a man made channel.  Tokugawa Ieyasu chose the small fishing village of  Edo to be the shogunal capitol. Although he never lived there he was fully aware of the structural changes which would be needed to make this a great center. A channel here, a drainage system there --- all of this laid the groundwork for metropolitan Tokyo as we know it today.


Like all city planners special attention had to made to supply an ever growing population with fresh water. Hence the structure above, an aqueduct, brought a particularly distinctive water source to this part of the community. In fact, the entire district came to be named after this especially delicious and pure agua: Ochanomizu or tea water.



The Suidōbashi or Aqueduct Bridge

The Suidōbashi or aqueduct bridge was a wooden structure built during the Manji period (1658-60) to bring fresh drinking water from Inokashira to the ever burgeoning Edo. It was originally referred to as the Mannen or Ten Thousand Year aqueduct because it was meant to last for a very long time. This Suidōbashi not only carried fresh water but also operated as a foot bridge. Today there is a modern bridge called the Suidobashi in the same location, but the aqueduct has long since disappeared.



There is a Japanese poem which says the aqueduct brings the water for the first bath of Spring.




I may be somewhat fickle, but this detail of the

Suidōbashi at Ochanomizu by Kuniyoshi

may well be might favorite. To each his own.


Hiroshige Ochanomizu detail above.



    Above is a detail of the earliest representation of the aqueduct at Ochanomizu that I am aware of. It is by Hokuju. The detail of a print by Eisen below may be the second earliest unless it is one of the early Hiroshiges. In either case the Eisen or the Hiroshige would have been created twenty to thirty years later than the Hokuju.    




Above is another image of the Suidōbashi

at Ochanomizu in the winter by Kiyochika.


Detail of a nighttime view of the aqueduct

at Ochanomizu with fireflies by Kiyochika.