Before the City: The Natural Splendor of Edo

Hiroshige’s publisher organized the prints in One Hundred Famous Views of Edo into an order that reflected the four seasons. Since Hiroshige died before the series was finished, however, that sequence may not reflect the artist’s intentions. An alternative way in which to arrange the prints emphasizes the evolution of Edo City from its initial development in the late 12th century. Before then, Musashi Province, in which Edo was located, was essentially an inhospitable marsh. (Linguists have proposed that the word musashi originally meant "wetland with inedible plants.") The prints displayed in this room, which include little or no reference to humans, offer us a glimpse of what the rustic origins of Edo City may have looked like.