Utagawa (also called Ando) Hiroshige is recognized as one of the last great masters of the ukiyo-e tradition. Literally, “pictures of the floating world,” ukiyo-e had largely emphasized erotic and pop cultural subjects, such as beautiful women, kabuki actors, and scenes from history and folk tales, but Hiroshige—following Hokusai—chose to specialize in landscapes and travel series which dovetailed with the rising popularity of tourism in Edo Japan. It is estimated that he created more than 5,000 prints during his lifetime and each is a visual poem unto itself.
Mount Kano in Kazusa Province is one of his 1858 series, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, depicting Japan’s highest peak in various perspectives, seasons and weather conditions. Held sacred since ancient times, Mount Fuji is revered in Shinto mythology as one of the two gods born from “something like a reed that arose from the soil” when the earth was chaotic. An important motif in Japanese art and literature, it had previously been the subject of two similarly-titled series by Hokusai, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji and One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji, published during the 1830s.