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Fish Market at Nihon Bridge, approx. 1615–1868

Fish Market at Nihon Bridge

Fish Market at Nihon Bridge (Nihonbashi uoichi) from Famous Places in the Eastern Capital (Toto meisho), by Ando Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797-1858). 1615-1868. Woodblock print; ink and watercolor on paper. Bequest of Frances Estelle Booth Page, 1999.26.

Nihon Bridge was the most famous bridge in Edo (now Tokyo), Japan's eastern capital. This arched bridge was built in 1602 by the Tokugawa shogunate to span what was to become known as the Nihonbashi River, one of many tributaries that emptied their water into the Sumida River. The area around this bridge became Edo's most vital commercial and transportation center. Retail and wholesale establishments, storage buildings, and houses lined the riverbanks. Merchandise and passengers were transported to and from this area by boat. Two major highways connecting Edo and Kyoto—the Tokaido Road along the Pacific coast and the Kiso Road, which traversed rugged mountainous regions.converged near the Nihon Bridge.

The Nihonbashi area was particularly famous for its fish market. Early in the morning, seafood retailers came here to buy fish for their stores. At the bottom of this print, those who have finished their transactions can be seen heading back on the bridge; others are still negotiating prices. The fish market was actually much larger than the area that can be seen in this print, encompassing several blocks in the vicinity of the bridge.  Here, the river is covered with heavy fog; only the roofs of the storage buildings are visible. In the distance stands the majestic Mount Fuji.

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