Utagawa Hiroshige I (1797-1858)
The Sixty-odd Provinces of Japan, a Catalogue
of Famous Sites Shown at a Single Glance and Divided into a Game Board (Dai Nihon rokujū yoshū, meisho ichiran furiwake sugoroku), 1856
Color woodblock print
28 x 27 7/16 inches (71.1x 69.7 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Gift of
Dr. and Mrs. Robert D. Dripps, 1972
Print technology was used during the Edo period for a wide variety of paper products, including game boards like the one shown here. This game allows the player to virtually travel through the sixty-eight provinces of Japan between the city of Edo, the shogun’s capital, and the imperial capital of Kyoto. The board game, designed by Hiroshige II, is based on the series Famous Places in the Sixty-odd Provinces of Japan by Hiroshige I, and was published in the 10th month of 1856, at the end of the three-year production of that series. Hiroshige I’s series was immensely popular, providing viewers with meisho from every single province, unusual for Ukiyo-e landscape prints which more often selected only well-known locales. The production of game boards such as this one indicate the popularity of famous places and travel amongst the print-buying public of the late Edo period.