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Mansei Bridge from the series A Comparison of Metropolitan Tokyo’s Proud Heritage

Picture of Mitsui Group's Western-style Three Story House at Surugacho, Tokyo

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Mansei Bridge

from the series

A Comparison of Metropolitan Tokyo’s Proud Heritage

by Utagawa Kuniteru II, 1874

Pilferer from the series Little Child's Pictures for Home Entertainment

IHL Cat. #1170

About This Print

One in a series of prints showing famous places ("prides") in and around Tokyo.  The Mansei Bridge, built and destroyed a number of times, spanned the Kanda river and was one of the major gateways to Tokyo. Its current iteration (see photo below), is located in present day Akihabara. 

As a major gateway to Tokyo, it was crowded day and night, as was witnessed by the philosopher Inoue Tetsujirō (1855-1944):
I took the road leading to the area below Surugadai until I reached the edge of Mansei Bridge. I was met by a ceaseless traffic of samurai, peasants, artisans, and merchants, rickshaw men and stablemen, all milling about in every direction. Some were shouting, others kicking up the dirt, or in a blaze or emotion over gains and losses, consumed with thoughts of luxury, starved for wealth and success, enslaved by their momentary passions. They behaved as though they were birds and beasts in a struggle for food. On the street, I alone stood still. With a sense of dejection and regret, I said to myself, “Ah! Is this indeed the way of life? What squalor and ugliness!” After returning to my room, I leaned against a table below the window. I arbitrarily took books from the shelf, wanting to know the foundation for ethics.1

present day Mansei Bridge

1  Preface to “A New Theory of Ethics" (Rinri shinsetsu), 1883, as translated by Richard M. Reitan, "Making of a Moral Society: Ethics and the State in Meiji Japan" University Of Hawai'i Press, 2009, p. 3.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Mansei Bridge
 萬世橋 Mansei bashi
 Series A Comparison Metropolitan Tokyo’s Proud Heritage [also translated as Comparisons of the Prides of Tokyo]
 Tōkyō fuka jiman kurabe 東京府下自漫競 [東京府下自慢競]
 Artist Utagawa Kuniteru II (1830-1874)
Yōsai Kuniteru mosha 曜齋国輝摸写 [mosha - "a true view"]
 Seal none
 Publication Date
May 1874 (censor's date seal) 戊五
南槙町 伊勢兼 [Minamimakichō, Isekane] - seal of the publisher Iseya Kanekichi 伊勢兼 兼吉 [Marks: pub ref. 145; seal 26-121]
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good -  wrinkling, minor soiling, full size, not backed, vertical 1/4" band of discoloration running through top half of print
 Genre ukiyo-e; meisho-e
 Format oban
 H x W Paper 
 14 3/8 x 9 5/8 in. (36.5 x 24.4 cm)
 H x W Image 13 1/8 x 8 5/8 in. (33.3 x 21.9 cm)

 Collections This Print
 Tokyo Metropolitan Library 0412-C6