If you find yourself in Japan hurtling at 300¬†km/h on a Nozomi bullet train between Tokyo and Kyoto, the entire journey will take you a little over 2 hours.
If you find yourself in the 1830s as part of an official mission delivering a gift of horses from the Shogun (the country’s military commander) in Edo (now Tokyo) to the Emperor in Kyoto, the journey would’ve taken about 2 weeks – depending on whether you were permitted to ride said horses. Your route: the famous T≈çkaid≈ç¬†road.¬†Most travellers made the journey on foot, understandably breaking up their travels with 53 pit stops, known as stations.
In January this year, The New York Public Library released a digital treasure trove of images now available for public use. In this collection is the celebrated Japanese artist¬†And≈ç Hiroshige’s most famous work,¬†Fifty-three Stations of the T≈çkaid≈ç,¬†which documents his 1832 (some believe 1831) journey through mountains, across rivers,¬†along breathtaking coastlines and¬†into roadside diners on a trip from Edo to Kyoto.¬†The series of colour woodblock prints became so popular (in both the East and West) that¬†he reproduced over three dozen different¬†T≈çkaid≈ç¬†series before he died in 1858.¬†The H≈çeid≈ç edition (named after the publisher) is the best known of these. We’ve published selections of it below so you can virtually follow in Hiroshige’s footsteps.