Japanese Woodblock Prints: "The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido"

Japan's famous woodblock print series by the master landscape artist Utagawa Hiroshige. The series was a huge success on the streets of Edo, the Shogun's capital, when published in 1833-1834. The series beautifully depicts everyday life of travellers and locals at the rest areas along the Tokaido road which linked Edo (today's Tokyo) with Kyoto. We explore the Tokaido by "virtually" travelling down major sections, thereby deepening our understanding of the content of the woodblock prints and of Japanese history through the Edo period.

This course will be delivered both face-to-face at WEA Sydney and online via the online platform Zoom simultaneously. Enrolling students need to ensure they have an email, a reliable internet connection, microphone/speakers and access to a tablet, smartphone or computer if they are attending via Zoom or have read the current COVID-19 Safety Guidance that WEA Sydney has put in place before enrolling into the face-to-face class.


  • Shanks' Mare by Jippensha Ikku, translated by Thomas Satchell (available on Kindle)
  • An excellent on-line resource for images of all Hiroshige's prints is www.hiroshige.org.uk
  • Five Great Walks of Japan - Tokaido, by John McBride (available on Kindle)
  • Donald Keane – Travelers of a Hundred Ages (Columbia University Press, 1989)
  • Richard Story – A History of Modern Japan (Pelican Original, 1960)


  • Utagawa Hiroshige - his career
  • The new Edo Shogunate and the establishment of the five highways
  • Post-towns and their histories
  • Woodblock prints of the 53 Stations of the Tokaido


By the end of the course, students should able to:

  1. Understand the history of the Tokaido.
  2. Understand the background to Utagawa Hiroshige's aritistic career.
  3. Recognise some of the great sites along the Tokaido and Hiroshige prints.

Want to be notified when this course is open for enrolments? Please join the waiting list by clicking .