"Famous Views" as a Pictorial Theme in Japanese Woodblock Prints

Landscape art in early modern Japan was closely modeled after paintings and poems produced in China during the Song (960–1279) and Yuan (1271–1368) dynasties. In the 16th century, these Chinese works inspired Japanese prince Konoe Hisamichi (d. 1544) to compose a similar series of poems about Lake Biwa near his home in Kyoto City. Two centuries later, Hisamichi’s poems, known as The Eight Views of Ōmi (Ōmi hakkei), became a popular subject for Japanese woodblock prints.

The phenomenal commercial success of The Eight Views of Ōmi as a pictorial theme encouraged artists to continue producing landscape prints. In 1831–32, Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858) released his series Famous Views of the Eastern Capital (Tōto meisho) and, twenty-five years later, he produced his most ambitious series, One Hundred Famous Views of Edo.