Station #23: Heavy rains often closed the Oi River. It is said that during the rainy season the river once was closed for twenty-eight days. River porters charged by the depth of the river. Water above shoulder height stopped all traffic across the river. When water was between the shoulder and the armpits, crossing cost ninety to one hundred mon; above the breasts, eighty mon; below the breasts, seventy mon. Hiroshige gives us a birds' eye view of travelers preparing to cross the Oi River. The artist was the son of a samurai assigned to the fire brigades guarding Edo castle. Fires were a deadly menace that spread quickly in the city built of wood and bamboo. His father died when he was 13 and Hiroshige took over his duties on the watch towers that stood high above the tightly packed samurai quarters surrounding the shogun's castle. Art historians theorize that this experience gave Hiroshige an eye for the aerial view which he employs so effecively.
Image Copyright: Minneapolis Institute of Art