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Benkei Bridge from the series Scenes of Last Tokyo

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Benkei Bridge

from the series Scenes of Last Tokyo

by Sekino Jun'ichirō, 1945


IHL Cat. #354

About This Print

This was one of the seven new designs for the series Scenes of Last Tokyo (Tokyo kaiko zue).  "Sekino had not yet moved to Tokyo when Scenes of Last Tokyo (Tokyo kaiko zue) was published, but he became involved in the postwar project after having become a member of Onchi's circle in 1939.  His subject in this print is Benkei Bridge, which crosses the outer moat of Edo Castle on the north side.  Named for a legendary monk-warrior of the twelfth century, it still stands today."1

1 The Artist's Touch, The Craftsman's Hand: Three Centuries of Japanese Prints from the Portland Art Museum, Maribeth Graybill, Portland Art Museum, Oregon, 2011, p. 300.

Benkei Bridge (弁慶橋)

Source: Old Tokyo.com website http://www.oldtokyo.com/benkeibashi-bridge.html

Benkeibashi [Strong man bridge] spanned a palace moat, connecting the palace grounds to the west approach at Akasaka Mitsuke. Sadly, as with Nihonbashi, an elevated expressway (Shuto Expressway built for the 1964 Olympic Games), now almost completely obscures from aerial view the current Benkeibashi.

Meiji era view of Benkei Bridge
(from Old Tokyo.com website)
Modern view of Benkei Bridge.  A small piece of the the elevated expressway seen in upper right

Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #354
 Title  Benkei Bridge
 弁慶橋 Benkeibashi 
 Series  Scenes of Last Tokyo [also seen translated as Recollections of Tokyo]
 東京回顧図会 Tokyo kaiko zue
 Artist 
 Sekinō Jun’ichirō (1914 - 1988)
 Signature 
 Sekino in English and Japanese 準 lower right corner of image
 Seal  none
 Publication Date  originally 1929 in the series One Hundred Views of New Tokyo (Shin Tokyo hyakkei). Again in 1945 using recarved blocks for the series Scenes of Last Tokyo (Tokyo kaiko zue)
 Edition  1945
 Publisher  Fugaku Shuppansha 富岳出版社, Tokyo, Uemura Masurō 上村益郎 publisher  
 Printer  Hirai Kōichi 平井孝一 
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  good - foxing throughout but primarily visible margins and verso.
 Genre  sosaku hanga (creative print)
 Miscellaneous  One of the six newly created prints in this series of 15 prints. 
 Format  chuban
 H x W Paper  8 x 10 1/4 in. (20.3 x 26 cm)
 H x W Image  7 x  9 1/2 in. (17.8 x 24.1 cm)
 Collections This Print  Carnegie Museum of Art 89.28.709.13; British Museum 1980,1227,0.18.10; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 65.1068; Smithsonian Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery S1995.118.2; Portland Art Museum 1996.31.2j
 Reference Literature  The Artist's Touch, The Craftsman's Hand: Three Centuries of Japanese Prints from the Portland Art Museum, Maribeth Graybill, Portland Art Museum, Oregon, 2011, p. 300; Made in Japan - The Postwar Creative Print Movement, Alicia Volk, Milwaukee Art Museum, 2005, referenced on p. 35; Modern Japanese Prints: The Twentieth Century, Amanda T. Zehnder, Carnegie Museum of Art, 2009, p. 161.

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