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This video clip shows a replica of a scroll picture displayed in Nihonbashi, Tokyo.



<Uploaded by on Jan 25, 2010>

Nihonbashi bridge <————————————————- Imagawa bridge
(Nihonbashi river)———————————–  ————— (Kanda river)

Map of that time

Image: mitsuifudosan.co.jp

Map of 2012

The original hand scroll Kidai Shoran, twelve meters in length, portrays the then most important shopping street of Nihonbashi in Edo, modern-day Tokyo, around 1805. Nihonbashi flourished during the Edo Period, becoming an economic and cultural center and acting as the starting point of the five main roads of Japan, including the Tokaido highway.

Kidai Shoran means “an excellent view of our prosperous age”, and the title in this scroll reads “熈代勝覧 天” (Excellent View of our Prosperous Age, Heaven), suggesting that this scroll is possibly one of the three series of the scrolls “天地人” (Heaven, Earth and Human), but the others’ locations are unknown.

With 1671 people and 20 dogs, 13 horses, 4 cows, 1 monkey, 2 falcons, 40 different shops, hundreds of houses, numerous restaurants, the picture illustrates the society and everyday life in the early 19th century.  In the following year, 1806, a massive fire destroyed most of this area.  Thus, this picture is a documentation worth everything.

The scroll was found by Dr. Hans Küsttel, Biology professor of the Free University of Berlin and Chinese fine art collector, in the attic of his relative’s house in 1995.  He donated it to the Museum of Eastern Art in Berlin.  The provenance before that is unknown.  It had been kept as a Chinese art since then.  At his death in 1999, the scroll was reviewed and identified as an Japanese hand scroll by an expert of the Japanese fine art, Khan Torin, who was preparing a new Japan Gallery in the museum at that time.  The scroll was temporally home for the exhibitions in 2003 and 2006, and now owned by the Museum of Asian Art in Berlin.  The replica in this video clip was created in 2009, exhibited in Nihonbashi, its hometown.


A pottery seller.  People in Edo mostly used chinaware made in Seto rather than Arita or Imari.  An area around Imagawa bridge was a pottery wholesale district.


A girl is nursing a baby on her back.  Her little brother is following her, coaxing her to get some sweets in front of them.


Father,carrying a small desk on his shoulder, is taking his son to a Terakoya (school). The son is hanging back… he doesn’t want to study…


Mitsui(井) Echigo-ya(後屋), a Kimono store. (current Mitsukoshi(三越)) The sign board suggests Cash-and-Carry Sales (現銀無掛直) which was a new trading method at that time. Usually a sales person would visit his customer, not the customer visits the store, and bought and sold on credit.

Image: mitsukoshi.co.jp

Mitsukoshi Department Store in the 21 century

Image: mitsukoshi.co.jp



「熈代勝覧」とは、「熈(かがや)ける御代の勝(すぐ)れたる景観」という意味で、本絵巻には「熈代勝覧 天」と記載されており、「天地人」の全三巻の可能性がありますが、他の巻は現在所在不明です。題字は当時著名な書家であった佐野東洲の描いたもので、絵巻には沿道にある88軒の問屋や店に加え、行き交 う1,671人、犬20匹、馬13頭、牛4頭、猿1匹、鷹2羽ならびに屋号や商標が書かれた暖簾、看板、旗、などが克明に描かれています。なお、1806 年の「丙寅(ひのえとら)の大火」で建物の多くは焼失したとされており、その直前の貴重な記録といえます。