Plum Estate, Kameido from “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo” woodblock prints
As if the blooming plum flowers gave out the fragrance for us. It is one of the ukiyo-e series of “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo” by Utagawa (Ando) Hiroshige (1797-1858).
The Plum Estate in Kameido was the vacation house of the wealthy merchant Iseya Hikoemon. About 300 plum trees bloom every February. But it is already impossible to see the spectacular scene. Because the flood in 1910 made all trees dead and the estate was closed.
Among them, there was especially famous plum tree in the garden. It was “Ryugabai” (龍臥梅). Tokugawa Mitsukuni (1628-1701), the second feudal lord of Mito, see the tree which was 10 feet and extend its waving branches in all directions. He compared the tree as a lying dragon. Ryugabai means the lying dragon plum tree.
Yes, the nearest tree on the screen is exactly Ryugabai.
The closely approaching Ryugabai expresses Hiroshige’s skillful composition. The distant view of the other plum trees and wide sky make the well-balanced space with the near attractive branches.
In the middle of the screen, we can see the people who enjoy the blossom viewing in the early Spring. The sounds of their chatting almost come from the inside of the prints.
Furthermore, the white blooms smoothly connect the green ground to the red sky.