Nissaka: The Night-Weeping Stone at Sayo no Nakayama, from the series The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō

Nissaka: The Night-Weeping Stone at Sayo no Nakayama, from the series The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō

c. 1848–50

Utagawa Hiroshige 歌川 広重

(Japanese, 1797-1858)

Color woodblock print

Sheet: 22 x 34.7 cm (8 11/16 x 13 11/16 in.)

The Kelvin Smith Collection, given by Mrs. Kelvin Smith 1985.323

Location

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This print belongs to a series known colloquially as the “Formal Script Tōkaidō” because of the style of text in which the name of the series is printed.

Description

This print is an image of a mountain pass in Nissaka, one of the stops along the Tōkaidō, a road running from Kyoto to Edo (present-day Tokyo). This scene alludes to a legend in which bandits murdered a pregnant woman on that stretch of road, and her blood fell upon a stone. Shown in the foreground, the stone is said to contain the woman’s spirit, and so it weeps each night. In some versions of the story, the stone’s cry alerts a passing monk (really the disguised bodhisattva Kannon) to the presence of her infant, who survived the attack. The monk takes the child from the deceased mother’s body, and raises it as his own. The child goes on to avenge its mother.

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