Utagawa Kunisada, 1786–1864
and Utagawa Hiroshige, 1797–1858
From the series Fifty-three Stations by Two Brushes, 1854
Color woodblock print (nishiki-e)
Gift of Louis W. Hill, Jr. P.75.51.303
Cat. no. 140

For this print of Ejiri, the eighteenth station of the Tōkaidō road, Hiroshige depicted the pine grove of Miho, and Kunisada featured a celestial maiden in a fanciful feathered robe (hagoromo). Their imagery alludes to the Nø play Hagoromo, attributed to the famous playwright Zeami (ca. 1363–ca. 1443). In the play, a fisherman finds a fantastically beautiful robe made of feathers, which a celestial maiden has carelessly left hanging from a pine branch. He agrees to return the robe to the panicked maiden if she will dance for him. She obliges, dedicating her dance to the beauty of Miho, a pine-clad sandbar in Suruga Bay. Kunisada represented the heavenly maiden in flight, presumably after her dance. The wings and feathers on her back signify her divine nature, but her hairdo, resplendent uchikake robe, and yellow obi tied in front reflect the style popular among contemporary high-ranking courtesans.