Utagawa Hiroshige, 1797–1858
Hakone—View of the Lake
From the series Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō Road, ca. 1833
Color woodblock print (nishiki-e)
Bequest of Richard P. Gale 74.1.262
Cat. no. 218

Hiroshige’s view of Hakone Pass is among his most dramatic scenes, capturing the severe beauty of this rugged terrain. Rising abruptly beside the placid waters of Lake Ashinoko, the mountain presents a mosaic of colored boulders. Attempts by scholars (and other Hiroshige enthusiasts) to locate the spot from which the artist might have obtained this view have failed, so in all likelihood the scene is partly imaginary.

After winning the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Tokugawa Ieyasu and his military advisers devised strategies to safeguard their stronghold in Edo, from which they ruled the country. They established checkpoints (sekisho) on the major roadways, where all travelers had to present identification. Hakone Pass was one of two sekisho on the Tōkaidō road. In this scene, a feudal lord’s entourage has just begun the downward journey; their hats are visible within the steep-walled pass.