Artwork of the Week: January 2018 (Week 5)

Ando Utagawa Hiroshige, "Kameido Shrine in Snow"

Ando Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), Kameido Shrine in Snow, from Famous Places of the Eastern Capital, 1833, woodcut, 8 ¾ x 13 ¼ inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of the Mahonri M. Young Estate, 1959.

This enchanting print looks down on one of Edo’s (Tokyo’s) most famous Shinto shrines. Falling snow covers the roofs, trees, bridges, and paths of the Kameido Shrine with a clean white layer that contrasts with the blue of the pond. Three people—perhaps two worshippers and a priest—leave their footprints on the pristine pathway leading over the bridges, past lanterns, plum trees, and small shrines, to the principal worship hall. Noguchi Yore, a Japanese art historian, observed that the snow in this print seems to be “not a freezing thing but a phenomenon for purifying the world.”

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