The Illustrated Japan - Rokukaido - 六 街道
The Illustrated Japan - Rokukaido
We are in 1832 when the japanese artist-painter Hiroshige (1797-1858) took the coastal route “Tokaido”, from Edo (former name of Tokyo) to Kyoto via Osaka. It is one of the 5 major roads “gokaido” under the Edo period (approx. 1600-1868). In 55 woodcut prints, he gave an outline of the popular life with scenes of daily life in a romantic and picturesque surroundings.
The series “53 stations of the Tokaido” by Hiroshige is in the genre of art flourishing in japan in this time “Ukiyo-e” , meaning “pictures of the floating, impermanent world”. The art dealer Hayoshi Tadamara poetically translated it as “…the life as it is happening under our eyes.”
Japan is a country with different facets: the enchanting side of its nature, centuries-old traditions and also a developed country, the third economic power in the world firmly anchored in modernity. these are succinct aspects we usually know from Japan.
Rokukaido “the six roads” is an arbitrary extension of the 5 major roads (gokaido), i chose to take also on foot from Tokyo-Narita to Kanazawa (Ishikawa prefecture, west of the main island Honshu) and then to Osaka.
The series “Illustrated Japan - Rokukaido” is therefore a meeting with the ordinary, the popular reality in parallel to what achieved Hiroshige two centuries earlier. Two centuries where landscapes have been transformed over the industrial revolutions, different political visions and the turning point: the after World War II that allows Japan to enter a new era of economy, politic and social. This exploration is to indulge in contemplation of Japan away from the stereotypes and close to the lives of the Japanese, “…the life as it is happening under our eyes”.
NB: the images are analog prints made in darkroom.
B&W series, format 120 and 135mm.
Gildas de La Monneraye
Silver Gelatin B&W prints