Edo Period ukiyo-e print designer Utagawa Hiroshige’s sketch diary notebook, missing for 80 years, has been found in the United States.
Hiroshige (1797-1858) is known for his work “Tokaido Gojusan Tsugi” (“Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road”).
The notebook had been missing since it was taken out of the country during the Meiji Era.
Hiroshige had the notebook, titled “Koshu Nikki Shaseicho” (“Koshu Sketch Diary”), when he traveled from Edo, or what is now Tokyo, to visit merchants who invited him to Koshu, now the Yamanashi Prefecture region, in fall 1841, the curator said.
The notebook contains 19 sheets of twofold Japanese paper. It has diaries and 18 scenery drawings.
“I was surprised at the artful structure and brush strokes. The diary describes how (Hiroshige) was welcomed at places he was invited to,” said Shinya Ichikawa, curator of the Nakagawa-machi Bato Hiroshige Museum of Art in Toshigi Prefecture. “I heard ukiyo-e print designers were often invited to regional areas in Japan, but this is the first material that shows how the situation was.”
Ichikawa said he found the individual who had the notebook after he learned that it was sold at an auction in London last year and made its way to the United States. He borrowed it and determined that it was genuine.
This year it will be displayed in the Chiba City Museum of Art from Sept. 5 to Oct. 9.
Next year it will be at the Sagawa Art Museum in Moriyama, Shiga Prefecture, from April 21 to May 27, and the Koriyama City Museum of Art in Fukushima Prefecture from Sept. 15 to Oct. 21.
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