NATURE/SUPERNATURE | Virtual Backgrounds
Cherry Blossom Viewing at Mount Goten by Utagawa Hiroshige, c. 1832-1855
Most of the prints in this exhibition were created in the capital city of Edo (modern Tokyo). Edo was a thriving urban center with a population surpassing 1 million people by the mid-18th century (rivaled globally only by Beijing). People in the capital, as they do today, sought out the beauties of nature nearby, especially during seasonal festivities. They celebrated the ephemeral beauty of blooming cherry trees by gathering with family, friends and work colleagues for picnics under the blossoms. This scene by Hiroshige depicts cherry blossom viewing (Japanese: hanami) at Mount Goten, or Palace Hill, in modern Shinagawa. Overlooking the Meguro River to the south, it was one of the most popular sites for hanami during the Edo period.
Amanohashidate by Yōshū Chikanobu, 1893
Amanohashidate is a thin strip of land connecting two opposing sides of Miyazu Bay in northern Kyoto Prefecture. This sand bar is about 2 miles long and covered with about 7,000 pine trees. Viewed from the mountains at either end of the bay it looks like a pathway between heaven and earth, hence its name “Bridge to Heaven.” The scene has been admired for centuries and is ranked among Japan's “Three Scenic Views,” along with Miyajima near Hiroshima (also featured in this section of the exhibition) and Matsushima near Sendai in the northern part of Honshu. In this print by Chikanobu, well-dressed visitors are enjoying the stunning view of the edge of the bay, as local children catch fish below.