Utagawa Hiroshige: Religious Festival at Atsuta Shrine in Miya (Station #42) - Honolulu Museum of Art

Artist: Utagawa Hiroshige

Title: Religious Festival at Atsuta Shrine in Miya (Station #42)

Date: c. 1833 - 1834

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Source: Honolulu Museum of Art
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Miya, the forty-second station on the Tökaidö (in modern Nagoya Prefecture), takes its name from the famous Atsuta Shrine (miya literally means “palace” or “shrine”). Atsuta Shrine is one of the oldest and most important Shintö shrines in Japan, and is the traditional repository of one of the sacred imperial regalia, a sword believed to have been given by the sun goddess Amaterasu Ömikami. This scene depicts an annual festival at the shrine in which two divinely possessed horses were raced, an ancient Shintö agrarian ceremony that was believed to secure good harvests for the coming year. On the right side, a cropped Torii gate suggests the shrine. Two groups of men dash alongside the two horses, spurring them on. The vigorous horizontal movement of the two horses to the left is countered by two bands of smoke blowing diagonally towards the right, lending a sense of balance to the composition. The red accents on the outfits of the people in the foreground group convey a vibrant energy. ("The Tôkaidô Road: Connecting Japan" exhibition Nov/26/2009-Jan/24/2010)

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