An 1853 woodblock print by Utagawa Hiroshige II (1829-1869)
The volcanic Mount Haruna was one of three major mountains in Kōzuke Province. At the centre of this snow scene a group of temple buildings is perched on top of a rocky mountainside. Tiny figures make their way across a path and narrow bridge over the rushing river below. Mount Haruna was a famous place of pilgrimage, the site of a Shinto shrine and Buddhist temple.
The long building on the right was a tea house inside the temple grounds, while the red building in the centre housed a statue of a thousand-armed kannon, bodhisattva of mercy. The bright red of the temple and the sacred bridge leading to it, and the strong blue of the river in the gorge below, effectively contrast with the greys and white of the snowy ground and sky and emphasize the isolated, wintry setting.
The ‘Famous Views of the Sixty-odd Provinces’, although it is less often reproduced than many of Hiroshige’s other series, is considered by many to be one of his finest and most dramatic sets of prints. Once the ‘Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō’ had established Hiroshige as the leading landscape print designer of his day, he continued to produce series of landscape prints of well-known locations. His ‘Famous Views of the Sixty-odd Provinces’ series (Rokujū yoshū meisho zue 六十余州名所図会), consists of 69 different designs of the city of Edo and each of the 66 provinces of Japan, plus a list of contents that was produced once the series had been completed in 1856.
Snow on Mount Haruna in Kōzuke Province
Kōzuke, Haruna-san setchū 上野榛名山雪中
Views of Famous Places in the Sixty-odd Provinces, series number 26
8th month, 1853
37.4 × 25.2 cm