Mystery of famous Hiroshige’s snowy Kambara woodblock ukiyo-e painting

Did Hiroshige really draw the landscape of Kambara?

15.Kambara, the snow in the night, by Utagawa Hiroshige

Kambara, the snow in the night from “Fifty-three stages on the Tokaido” series

Among numberless other landscape ukiyo-e printings, the artworks of Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) receive the highest evaluation inside and outside the country. 

One of the most famous artworks is Kambara, the snow in the nightKambara, the snow in the night is a print of “Fifty-three Stages on the Tokaido” series.


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All prints of ​“Fifty-three stages on the Tokaido”​


Hiroshige drew most of the print with just white and black. Just three people whose heads and shoulders are covered with snow have other colors. And it is so quiet and the sound in the picture is their footsteps on the snow.

Not a few people comment the snowy print is a masterpiece in the series of “Fifty-three Stages on the Tokaido”

Snow mystery

Hiroshige joined the shogun’s procession and actually walked on Tokaido from Edo to Kyoto in 1832. 

He saw and sketched how the stages at that time. He made “Fifty-three Stages on the Tokaido” based on it.Kambara is the 15th stage on Tokaido. It places on Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka-shi, Shizuoka Prefecture.

But the famous picture has a mystery. That is whether he really drew the scene of the stage he saw with his eyes. 

First, Shimizu City is a warm region famous for its sweet potatoes. Furthermore, Shizuoka Prefecture has third less snowing days following Okinawa and Miyazaki in Japan. The area has deep snow just like the artwork once a decades

Second, he stayed on the stage in September. The average temperature of Shimizu City in that time is 20-25℃. It must not snow.

And last, we couldn’t find the landscape of the print around the area. 

For these reasons, some people believe that Hiroshige drew the picture based not on the actual scene but on a winter landscape by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849).

Otherwise, he would created the imaginary scene of the place based on what he saw. He has outstanding abilities of composition and coloring. In the prints of “Fifty-three Stages on the Tokaido”, there are various seasons, weather, and time zones.

The mystery has not been unclarified. 

In Shimizu City, there are Shizuoka City Tokaido Hiroshige Museum of Art. It is the first museum which has the name of Hiroshige. You can enjoy his artworks including Kambara, the snow in the night at the museum.

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