Hokusai - Ehon Sumida Gawa - Prints 3-2 and 3-3
At this point, summer shifts into autumn ...
In the foreground we have a view of the quarter of Hanakawadochō (花川戸町) with its numerous restaurants and the residence of the hero of the popular kabuki play “Sukeroku” (助六). The full name of this fictional kabuki character is in fact Hanakawado Sukeroku. For more information concerning this popular kabuki character, please have a look at Serge Astières’s Shin-hanga website here.
In the mid-distance Mukōjima (向島, which literally translates into “opposite side island”), the district on the east bank, contained some sixteen villages as well as several shrines. On the right in print 3-2 we see the Mimeguri shrine (三圍稲荷, which translates into “three circles shrine”), its torii gate partly hidden by the embankment. The Mimeguri shrine is home to Daikokuten, the god of wealth or of the household, particularly the kitchen, and to Ebisu, the god of fishermen, luck, and workingmen, as well as the guardian of the health of small children. In the left of print 3-3, we see the shrine of Ushinogozen (牛の御前, which translates into “before the cow”) located in the village of Susaki (須崎村).
Daikokuten and Ebisu are two of the seven gods of good fortune in Japanese mythology and folklore (the other five being Hotei, Jurōjin, Fukurokuju, Bishamonten, and Benzaiten). This is a print depicting these two lucky gods designed by Toyota Hokkei and reproduced by David Bull in 2002 (click to enlarge):
Ebisu (on the right) and Daikokuten (on the left) by Toyota Hokkei
Mimeguri shrine has been depicted in Japanese prints many times. Here is one by Hiroshige that nicely complements Hokusai’s prints 3-4 and 3-5. It is a view from the east bank of the river showing the torii gate of Mimeguri shrine in the foreground and Matsuchiyama hill, Shōden shrine, and Imado bridge on the west bank of the river (click to enlarge):
Distant View of Mimeguri Embankment and Matsuchiyama by Utagawa Hiroshige (ca. 1843-1847).
Mimeguri shrine can still be visited today:
|Mimeguri shrine today: the torii gate||Mimeguri shrine today: the shrine|
Note the shimenawa sacred cord intertwined with shide (folded pieces of paper) in front of the entrance of the shrine in the photograph on the right, see prints 3-12 and 3-13 for details.
Not many Japanese prints seem to have been dedicated to Ushinogozen shrine. Here are two of the four that I found so far:
|Ushi-no-gozen from the series
“Famous Places of Edo”
designed by Torii Kiyonaga in 1783
|Ushi no gozen from the series
“Flowers of Edo and Views of Famous Places”
designed by Utagawa Kunisada in 1863
The Kunisada print on the right displays an image of a cow in its bottom left frame. This refers to the fact that a statue of a cow was donated to the shrine in 1824. This statue has the reputation of healing any kinds of sicknesses: touch the part of the cow’s body where your own body is plagued by any ailment, and remedy will be on its way.
Nowadays the shrine is called Ushijima-jinja shrine and seems to have been moved to the south of Mimeguri shrine. Here is a picture of current day Ushinogozen shrine:
|Ushinogozen shrine today|