21. Okabe


Previous Back to The 53 Stations of the Tokaido Next

 


21. Okabe from Tokaido Gojusantsugi by Hiroshige

Station #21: Utsunoya Pass is right before Okabe on the trip to Kyoto. The Tokaido here was enclosed on both sides by steep hills covered with dense forest and thick climbing vines. Travelers considered it one of the most fearsome stretches of the highway. Yet Hiroshige shows local farmers going leisurely about their chores in a gentle setting. This pass is famous for a scene in a Kabuki play by Mokuami Kawatake (1816 - 1893) where Jubei Itamiya kills and robs his traveling companion, the blind Bun'ya. Jubei is a ronin, a masterless samurai down on his luck. After Bun'ya's death, Jbei is haunted by Bun'ya's ghost and ends up strangling his own wife whose shape the ghost takes at one point. Edo Period Japanese loved ghost stories, the bloodier the better. Ghost stories were performed in the summer time, the chills from the horror scenes were believed to provide relief from the oppressive heat.

Image Copyright: Minneapolis Institute of Art

 

Previous Back to The 53 Stations of the Tokaido Next