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True View of the Newly Built Azuma Bridge


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

True View of the Newly Built Azuma Bridge

by Utagawa Kunimasa IV, 1887

Kami-no Megumi Wagō-no Torikumi
IHL Cat. #2435

About This Print

Kunimasa's "true view" of the just opened Azuma Bridge shows it bustling with activity, including a couple in a horse drawn carriage, a man on horseback and scores of pedestrians. The Sumida River is filled with boats ferrying cargo, including what appears to be a steam-driven barge. Called out in the small red rectangular cartouches are the Sumidagawa 隅田川 (right panel), Matsuchi-yama 真乳山 (center panel) and Kinryū-zan 金龍山 (Sensō-ji) and Fuji yūran sho 富士遊覧所, a timber-frame replica covered with plaster of Mount Fuji built in Aasakusa Park in Tokyo (see detail below.)

The print carries a date (see "Print Details" below) of December 7, 1877 and the bridge was officially opened on December 9.

Fuji yūran sho
Fuji Sightseeing Tour

高卄十八间 height 28 meters
 登り二百间 ascent 200 stairs
下り二百三十间 descent 230 meters

Source: website of asakusa-e.com
In 1887, a man−made replica of Mt. Fuji wasbuilt which allowed people to climb up using spiral paths and enjoy the view ofEdo. Because it proved less popular than hoped it was brought downthree years later and replaced by the Japan Panorama Theater

Variant Color Printing by the Same Publisher

variant color printing
click on image to enlarge
image source: Yamada Shoten Gallery

For other prints depicting Azuma Bridge see Illustration of Azuma Bridge from Famous Places in Tokyo by the same artist Kunimasa IV and Azumabashi by Utagawa Kunitoshi.

Azuma Bridge

Source: Meiji Revisited The Sites of Victorian Japan, Dallas Finn, Weather Hill, Inc. 1995 p. 145
Azumabashi, built in 1887, was the first metal bridge spanning the Sumida River.  It was officially dedicated and opened to the public on December 9, 1887.   It served the bustling pleasure quarter of Asakusa on one side and a beer factory on the other.  Japanese woodblock artists drew its vertical posts and diagonal eyebars in Western perspective and for good measure populated the walkway with ladies in bustles and the deck with top-hatted gentlemen in carriages.

Period Photos

Photo of Azumabashi, July 1900

Color Postcard of Azumabashi, date unknown

Postcard of Azumabashi, date unknown

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #2435
 Title (Description) True View of the Newly Built Azuma Bridge
 Shin chiku Azumabashi shin zu 新築吾妻橋真図
 Artist Utagawa Kunimasa IV (1848-1920)
Baidō Kunimasa hitsu
 Seal Toshidama seal 年玉
 Publication Date
December 7, 1887
届 明治廿年十一月七日
notification delivered Meiji 20, 11th month, 7th day 
堤吉兵衛 Tsutsumi Kichibei
 [Marks: similar to 26-134; pub. ref.194]
note: also a publisher of chromolithographs depicting views of famous places.
right column: 日本橋区吉川町五バンチ
[address of publisher: Nihonbashi-ku Yoshikawachō 5-banchi]
left columns: 画工兼出板人 堤吉兵衛
[artist and publisher: Tsutsumi Kichibei]

彫? hori ? 
carver's name is unread
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition fair - paper loss, repaired: bottom left of left panel, center of right edge of right panel, upper left edge of center panel; staining and red ink bleed center panel upper right edge
 Genre ukiyo-e; meisho-e
 Format vertical oban diptych
 H x W Paper
 right sheet: 14 3/16 x 9 1/2 in. (36 x 24.1 cm)
 center sheet: 13 11/16 x 9 1/4 in. (34.8 x 23.5 cm)
 left sheet: 13 7/8 x 9 5/16 in. (35.2 x 23.7 cm)
 Collections This Print
 Suntory Museum of Art (variant color printing)
last revision:
4/10/2021 created