This print depicts the Kanda district, where various craftsmen would create and sell their wares, in autumn time. The Kon’ya-chō dyers’ quarter was adjacent to the blacksmith’s quarter and was populated by craftsmen who used indigo dye to pattern cloth. Kanda was the heart of the capital’s urban culture belonging to native Edoites (eddoko). This is evinced by a saying at the time, “I am an Eddoko; I was born in Kanda.”
In the distance is Mount Fuji. Leftward and below it is the Fujimi no Yagura (“Fuji-View Tower”), which is still standing today. The print maybe inspired by similar print by Hokusai: “Fuji of the Dyers’ Quaker” from the series Fugaku hyakkei [One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji].
The fabric hanging will be used for yukata robes and tengui towels. The first two white strips of yukata fabric on the right are patterned with the character ‘fish,’ 魚, which is the first character in the name of the publisher 魚栄 Uoei. Behind them are lengths of cloth decorated with the seal of the artist, Hiroshige. The square pattern is made from the phonetic reading of the first two characters of his name hi ヒand ro ロ. The playfulness of weaving characters into the print draws on the long tradition of making picture prints egoyomi in which the long and short months of the Japanese lunar calendar are hidden into kimono patterns and other textured objects in prints. The hidden names also served as a form of clever self-advertising.
-Leah Justin-Jinich (Summer 2014)