A VISUAL LITERACY EXERCISE
This visual literacy exercise is based on selected woodblock prints from
a famous series depicting scenic views of the Fifty Three Stations of
the Tokaido (Tokaido gojusantsugi in Japanese). They were completed
originally during the middle of the nineteenth century by the Japanese
print artist Hiroshige
The Japanese Woodblock Print Artist
The Tokaido ("Eastern Sea Route") was the main coastal road linking the
headquarters of the period's military leadership in Edo (the modern city
of Tokyo) with the site of the Japanese imperial court in Kyoto, several
hundred kilometers to the south and west. The entire length of the highway,
one of five major roadways in the Empire at the time, was lined with post
stations, some fifty-three in number, catering to the needs of the thousands
of travelers regularly using the highway.
HIROSHIGE ANDO (1797 - 1858)
Along the road itself traders and religious pilgrims jostled with official
messengers and the entourages of local feudal lords (called daimyo)
making their way to and from Edo. Hiroshige clearly was fascinated by the
genre scenes such travelers -- and the varied settings through which they
moved -- provided; during his career, he finished four separate and complete
of woodblock prints depicting life along the Tokaido!
Examination of these lively prints can provide any attentive and careful
observer with a wealth of information about Japan and the Japanese -- as
we shall see as this exercise proceeds.
This visual literacy exercise should take about thirty minutes to complete
(dependent to a large degree on the speed of the modem you are using).
There are six steps in the process. As you proceed, you will be asked
At the bottom of each page, you will find a set of arrows to guide your
progress. The RIGHT ARROW will take you to the next portion of the exercise;
the LEFT ARROW will return you to the prior page; and the UP ARROW will
bring you back to this introductory material.
Examine a set of fifteen woodblock prints.
Complete the initial written exercise which follows.
Review the woodblock print set a second time.
Complete a second written exercise.
Indicate insights gleaned from the experience.
Examine exercise findings, insights and implications.
Evaluate lessons learned concerning how best to approach visual materials
as aids to study and research.
1.05. Exercise originally created in April 1996 by Lee
A. Makela (email@example.com
for use in three courses (HIS 273, Contemporary Japan in Historical Perspective;
HIS 373/573, Traditional Japan; and HIS 374/574, Modern Japan) and currently
integrated into HIS 373/573,
Contemporary Japan in Historical Perspective and HIS
371 / 571, The History of Japan, part of the curriculum offerred in
the Department of History
at Cleveland State University, Cleveland,
Ohio 44115. Last modified: January 26, 1999.