"Woodblock Prints of Kameido Tenjin Shrine"

A "Composite View" of Tokyo's Kameido Tenjin Shrine

Hiroshi Yoshida's 1927 woodblock "Kameido" (left) -- 2003 Photograph (right)

(To our regular readers, we apologize for the delay of this new and long overdue "Library"
article--the first of many which will follow at our usual approximately an article-a-month schedule
over the foreseeable future. This past summer/fall's "void" of articles was brought about by a
"distractingly disruptive" home/business move to our new location just north of Salem, OR.)

Additional research articles are currently underway.... so stay tuned on a regular basis.

Regular viewers of our Ukiyoe-Gallery "Library" articles will immediately recognize that this article is the follow-up "companion article" to our July 2004 Article #50 titled "A Visit to Tokyo's Kameido Tenjin Shrine." In that earlier article, using photographs of Tokyo's modern day Kameido Tenjin Shrine, we told a bit about Kameido's history and gave our viewers a tour of today's Kameido which has been reconstructed at Kameido's former location following the devastation of the March 1945 Allied fire-bombing of vast areas of Tokyo during World War II. Of course, appearances today are a bit different--sadly missing are all of the original wooden structures, and Kameido's famous "Drum Bridge" exists today reconstructed only of steel and concrete.

Nevertheless, still much beauty can be found when visiting Kameido Tenjin Shrine, with it's expansive koi ponds, paths, overhanging wisteria trellises, and constantly changing vistas. Thousands of visitors come annually to enjoy both the beauty and traditions of this revered location--with each person seemingly enjoying their visit in their own way. To children it is often an exciting adventure, to visiting travelers it is a memorable experience, and to older Japanese it is likely a nostalgic reminder of their past.

Looking Back--A Late 1880/90's Photograph of Kameido

Tokyo's Kameido Tenjin Shrine is perhaps most well-known for two things: its famous arched "Drum Bridge" and (if in season) the many purple wisteria which overhang much of its ponds from overhead trellises. However, before we look at the many woodblock prints of Kameido which are intended to be the primary focus of this article, let us together first take a look at a rare 1880/90's photograph for the historical perspective that it will offer.

Remember--this is EXACTLY what Kameido Tenjin Shrine did look like for most of the 300-year period prior to it's destruction in 1945. It was during this time that many of the woodblock prints that exist today were originally viewed by their respective artists, then sketched, designed and printed.

A Historically Accurate View inside Kameido's Grounds (photograph dated ca1880/90)

When viewing such "old" photographs, we as authors often find ourselves realizing that all persons seen within these images are no longer living. We look at their faces and into their eyes--seeing them in their own time, in their own experiences, in their own reality. Sometimes it can seem that these long-dead people are almost speaking to us..... if we simply allow ourselves to look inside and to "listen" carefully.

The second close-up view shown below is intentionally LARGE--a detailed close-up view of what Kameido Shrine actually looked like during the mid-Meiji period of approximately 1880 to 1890. Take your time..... view it carefully. Step inside..... in doing so, allow yourself to step back in time.

Close-up View inside Kameido (photograph ca1880/90)

Viewing Kameido--Through the Eyes of Japanese Artists

Of course, even to non-collectors or persons not broadly familiar with Japanese woodblock prints, Tokyo's Kameido Shrine is often still recognizable due to the well known "arched-bridge print" produced by Ando Hiroshige in 1856. Titled "Wisteria at Kameido Tenjin Shrine," this 65th print from Hiroshige's "One Hundred Famous Views of Edo" series is well known by millions of viewers including nearly any casual student of art. Solely for it's historic familiarity, we will view this print first--before then moving back in time to view a well over a dozen additional prints.

Seen just below is Hiroshige's depiction showing both the wisteria blossoms and the steeply-arched "drum bridge" of this famous Tokyo landmark--this copy being a modern day "re-strike" of Hiroshige's 1856 original.

Hiroshige's "Wisteria at Kameido Tenjin Shrine" (originally published 1856)

Kameido Shrine Through the Eyes of Various Japanese Artists

Following now are a dozen-plus various artists' images of Tokyo's revered Kameido Shrine, shown in the approximate chronological order of their creation. We will offer little more in the form of words. As art, these many prints are adequately capable of speaking on their own.

ANDO Hiroshige (1797-1858) "View of Kameido Tenmangu Shrine in Snow" (ca1833) -- An elevated perspective of Kameido.

(Series: "Famous Views of the Eastern Capital (Edo)" ("Toto Meisho"); Publisher: Kinkakudo)

ANDO Hiroshige (1797-1858) "Beauties at Kameido Shrine" (ca1834) -- A group of kimono-clad beauties resting at a tea break.

(Series: "Famous Views of the Eastern Capital (Edo)" ("Toto Meisho"); Publisher: Kinkakudo)

Hokusai (1760-1849) "Kameido" (1834) -- Stylistic clouds, viewers atop Kameido's "Drum Bridge."

ANDO Hiroshige (1797-1858) "Kameido Tenjin Shrine" (1840) -- Snow with stylistic clouds above and below Kameido's "drum bridges."

(Series: "Famous Views of Edo" ("Edo Meisho"); Publisher: Yamada-ya)

ANDO Hiroshige (1797-1858) "Wisterial in Bloom, Kameido Tenjin Shrine" (1840/42) -- Blooming wisteria and low clouds over Kameido's "drum bridges."

(Series: "Famous Places in Edo" ("Edo Meisho"); Publisher: na)

ANDO Hiroshige (1797-1858) "Wisteria at Kameido Tenjin Shrine" ("Kameido Tenjin Keidai") (1856) -- This an original edition printing of Hiroshige's famous image.

(Series: "100 Famous Views of Edo" ("Meisho Edo Hyakkei"); Publisher: Uoei)

ANDO Hiroshige (1797-1858) "Kameido Tenjin Shrine" (1851/53) -- An unusual perspective of Kameido's "drum bridge."

(Series: "Famous Views of Edo" ("Edo Meisho"); Publisher: Yamada-ya)

Hirokage UTAGAWA, active 1855 - 65 (active 1855-65, student of Hiroshige) "Kameido Tenjin Shrine" (1859) -- A comical design after Hiroshige's earlier series.

(Series: "Humorous Events at the Famous Places of Edo" ("Edo Meisho Doge Zukushi"); Publisher: Tsujiokaya Bunsuke)

Hiroshige II (1829-1869) "Kameido" ca1862 -- Another elevated perspective of Kameido.

(Series: "Famous Places of Edo" ("Edo Meisho")

Hiroshige II (1829-1869) "Kameido" ca1859-62 -- And another elevated perspective of Kameido.

(Series: "Famous Places of Edo" ("Edo Meisho")

Yoshitoshi TAISO (1839-1892) "A Comic Scene" (1881) -- Another comic design--similar to Hirokage's 1859 image.
(Series: "Comic Scenes of Tokyo" ("Tokyo Kaika Kyoga Meisho"); Publisher: Tsunashima Kamekichi)

Kiyochika KOBAYASHI (1870-1917) "Kameido" (ca1880) -- Two beauties under wisteria.

Kiyochika KOBAYASHI (1870-1917) "Kameido" (1884) -- An interesting perspective of Kameido's famous "Drum Bridge" (note the horizontal wooded runners added as "steps").

(Series: "One hundred views of Musashi" ("Musashi hyakkei no Uchi")

Inoue (Tankei) INOUE (1864-1889) "Kameido" (ca1880/85) -- A 5 x 7 print after Kiyochika's print.

Chikanobu TOYOHARA (1832-1912) "Kameido" ca1890 -- Five beauties aboard a boat feeding koi.

Chikanobu TOYOHARA (1832-1912) "Kameido" ca1890 -- Fishing at Kameido Shrine.

OGATA Gekko (1859-1920) "Kameido" (1891) -- Two kimono-clad beauties watching koi.

Yoshitoshi TAISO (1839-1892) "Wisteria Blossoms at Kameido" (1891) -- Mother and child watching koi.

Shuntei MIYAGAWA (1873-1914) "Kameido" (August 1897) -- Mother and child feeding koi.

(Series: "Flowers of the World of Pleasure" ("Yukiyo no Hana"); Publisher: Akiyama Buemon)

OGATA, Gekko (1859-1920) "Kameido" (May 20, 1897) -- An unusual perspective of Kameido's "drum bridge."

(Series: "Beauties Matched with Famous Sights" ("Bijin Meisho Awase"); Publisher: Matsuki Heikichi)

Shoun YAMAMOTO (1870-1965) "Kameido" (untitled) (ca1900) -- A delightful original painting (on silk) of Kameido.

(Series: "Women in Their Pursuits" -- One of 24 original paintings on silk.)

Chikanobu TOYOHARA (1832-1912) "Viewing Koi at Kameido" (May 1903) -- Two beauties and child feeding koi.

Shotei (Hiroaki TAKAHASHI) (1871-1945) "Wisteria at Kameido" (1909) -- A colorful distant view of children feeding Koi.

Hiroshi YOSHIDA (1876-1950) "Kameido Bridge" (1927) -- Yoshida's famous woodblock image of Kameido's "drum bridge."

unread signature/seal (18??-19??) "Kameido Bridge" (ca1930) -- Apparently after (and in-the-style of) Yoshida's famous 1927 "Kameido Bridge" print.

Helen HYDE (1868-1919) "Moon Bridge at Kameido" (1914) -- A close-up view of children playfully enjoying Kameido's "drum bridge."

Hasui KAWASE (1883-1957) "Wisteria at Kameido" ("Kameido no Fuji") (May 1932) -- A "chuban-sized" print of densely flowering purple wisteria.

(Publisher: Watanabe Shozaburo)

Hasui KAWASE (1883-1957) "Wisteria Blossom at Kameido Shrine, Tokyo"(1936) -- A delightful "postcard" print of Kameido.

(Series: "Shinto and it's Architecture"; Publisher: Watanabe Shozaburo)

Shiro KASAMATSU (1898-1991) "Wisteria at Kameido"(<1936) -- Another delightful "postcard" print of Kameido.

(Publisher: Watanabe Shozaburo)

Koitsu TSUCHIYA (1870-1949) "Kameido Bridge" 1933 -- A colorful view with dense purple wisteria.

(Publisher: Doi Eiichi)

Noel NOUET (1885-1969) "Kameido Shrine" (1936) -- Viewing Kameido through overhead wisteria.

(Series: "Scenes of Tokyo Views" ("Tokyo Fukkei Zen Nijuyon-mai"); Publisher: Doi Eiichi)

Toshi YOSHIDA (1911-1995) "Half-Moon Bridge" ("Taiko Bashi") (1941) -- Gorgeous wisteria overhanging Kameido's "drum bridge."

Noel NOUET (1885-1969) "Kameido Shrine" (ca1944) -- Perhaps the last recorded artist's view of Kameido before WWII destruction.

(Book "Tokyo Fifty Sketches" ("Tokyo"); Publisher: unknown; A wartime collection of Nouet's sketches.)

Shiro KASAMATSU (1898-1991) "Taiko Bridge at Kameido Tenjin" (1951) -- A close-up perspective of Kameido's new bridge.

(Grund #U-57; Publisher: Unsodo)

Unknown "Taiko Bridge at Kameido Tenjin" (ca1951+) -- An "unsigned" postcard print, clearly a design copied from the above Kasamatsu print.

Takao Sano "Wisteria and Drum Bridge at Kameido Tenjin Shrine" (2014) -- A modern print of today's Tokyo shrine.

A Final "View" of Kameido

Lest we forget that this article's intention is to show the many changing viewpoints of Japan's Kameido Shrine over the years--it has also been our observation that "the more things change over time...... the more they also seem to remain the same." This paradox--the blending of "modern Japan" with "old Japan"--perhaps more than anything else, is one of the delights that always await travelers who visit Japan for the very first time.

As can be seen by the "composite photo" we've created just below, the passage of over a century's time has changed very little of the beauty of Japan's Kameido Tenjin Shrine.

Another "Composite View" of Tokyo's Kameido Tenjin Shrine

Meiji-era 1880-90 Photograph (left) -- 2003 Photograph (right)


As we stated in our earlier "Kameido" article--to collector's of Japanese woodblock prints, Japan's many shrines and picturesque views offer a stunningly endless variety of images available for collecting. To some collectors (this author included), a given location such as Kameido Shrine can become a stand-alone "sub-collection" comprised solely of various views of this same location.

In the very near future, we will be featuring at least a couple of additional deserving locations within Japan, which have also proven over time to be popular "theme-collections" for collectors of Japanese woodblock prints. As both authors have traveled extensively in Japan, we will use our experiences in these future Ukiyoe-Gallery articles which will be presented in the same format: first a photo essay to both show and explain why these Japanese landmarks are famous, then a follow-up article showing how these locations have looked through the eyes of various Japanese artists over many decades of time.

The "Look-alike" Sumiyoshi Shrine Bridge in Osaka

Having invited the input of our readers who may own or be aware of additional woodblock print images of Tokyo's Kameido Shrine has unxepectely lead us to discover a very much "look-alike" arched bridge which is located at the Sumiyoshi Shrine in Osaka, Japan. Being quite an interesting and aesthetic structure, we've decided to add a few images of Sumiyoshi's drum-bridge for comparison.

TOKURUKI, Tomikichiro (1902-2000) "Sumiyoshi Shrine" (1941) -- A view of Sumiyoshi Shrine's drum-bridge (in Osaka).

(Series: "Famous, Sacred and Historical Places" ("Seichi Shiseki Meisho"); Publisher: Uchida Bijutsu Shoshi)

ASANO, Takeji (1900-2002) "Sumiyoshi Shrine in Snow" (ca9154) -- A beautiful wintertime view of Sumiyoshi Shrine's drum-bridge.

(Series: "Eight Views of Kinki" ("**"); Publisher: unk)

Special note: We invite our many readers who may have ADDITIONAL "woodblock print views" of Kameido Tenjin Shrine to contact us if they are interested in submitting images for inclusion into this article.

We are confident that additional woodblock prints must certainly exist--and we welcome your input.

UPDATE: Looking Back--Additional Late 1880/90's Photographs of Kameido

Below are some additional 1880/90's photographs provided for the historical perspective that they offer to collectors of Tokyo's Kameido Tenjin Shrine.

Again remember: This is EXACTLY what Kameido Tenjin Shrine did look like for most of the 300-year period prior to it's destruction in 1945--a period during which a majority of the woodblock prints that exist today were originally viewed by their respective artists, then sketched, designed and printed.

A Historically Accurate View inside Kameido's Grounds (photograph dated ca1880/90)

A Historically Accurate View inside Kameido's Grounds (photograph dated ca1880/90)

Literature (and print) sources used in preparation of this and other articles include:

Many above documented prints courtesy of: Ukiyoe-Gallery.

Additional print images courtesy of:

Randi Keith, (Canadian print collector).

Dr. Ross Walker, (Japan), himself a dealer and print collector.

"Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975", by Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, ISBN 0-8248-1732-X

"Kawase Hasui -- The Complete Woodblock Prints", by Kendall H. Brown & Shoichiro Watanabe, Hotei (KIT) Publishing, Netherlands, ISBN 90-74822-46-0

"Crows, Cranes and Camellias: The Natural World of Ohara Koson", by Amy Reigle Newland, Jan Perree, Robert Schaap, Hotei (KIT) Publishing, Netherlands, ISBN 90-74822-38-X

(c) Thomas Crossland and Dr. Andreas Grund, January 2006 (Updated May 2006, June/July 2007, Mar/Sept 2013, May/Dec 2015)

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