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Hokusai

The Mitsui Shop In Suruga, Edo

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About the Art

 

Mt. Fuji divides the scene in two. Ignoring the street, Hokusai only shows the part above the signboard of the Mitsui store in Suruga-cho.

The buildings of the Echigoya Mitsui Clothing Store frame the view from the foreground.

Kites fly in an almost infinite sky on a new-year's day.

Hokusai creates a motif with triangles, playing rooftop, kite and Fuji off against one another. In the left kite we can see the character “壽”, in the name of the publisher Eiju-do Nishimura-ya Yohachi(永壽堂 西村屋与八), serving as an advertisement within the work.

Both sides of the buildings belonged to the wealthy merchant Mitsui Echigoya, who was in the business of kimono fabric. The shop of Mitsukoshi was modernized and is still present today, but now Mt. Fuji is obscured by high-rise buildings.

Workmen repair the tiled roof on the right, one tossing a bundle of straw to the other below.

The left sign on the Mitsui buildings reads "Braided Cords and Threads," while the sign on the right reads "Clothing". Both announce the store's cash payment policy, a business innovation of the time which replaced the practice of billing the customer once or twice yearly.

Suruga is the antiquated name for the region around Mt.Fuji. The people of Edo, including Hokusai, saw the mountain from the street and called it Suruga-cho.

 

 

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