Each of the prints in this set includes a poem associated with one of the six rivers in various parts of Japan that are named Tamagawa, or Jewel River. The theme of six beautiful rivers enjoyed great popularity in the nineteenth century, especially among ukiyo-e printmakers; earlier in his career, Hiroshige created a series on the theme in various formats. Remarkably, the groupings and postures of the figures in each of the prints nearly exactly echoes those found in a set of handscrolls by Sakai Ōho (1808– 1841), also in the Burke Collection.
The sighing of the pine branches sharpens the autumn loneliness, where they beat the cloth by the banks of Tama River.
We shall come again to Tama River by the meadow-path, where the bush-clover grows, and it may be we shall see the moon’s image lying among the ripples.
We stop our horse and give him refreshing water from Tarna River in Ide, where the yellow roses blow.
Two women pounding cloth in a mortar, another rinsing it in the river, and some distance behind a fourth spreading it out on the ground to dry. Fuji in the background.
The traveller may forget everything; he might forget to beware of fetching water from the Tama River in Koya.
When evening comes the wind blows salt in Mutsu, and the plovers of the river cry over the wide fields.