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Portraits of Yajirobē (彌次郎兵衛) on the right and Kitahachi (喜多八) on the left

Identifier: 1914c Tomonobu double portrait

Portraits of Kichibei and Yajirobē

Illustration from Tōkaidōchū Hizakurige (東海道中膝栗毛?), abbreviated as Hizakurige and known in translation as Shank's Mare, is a picaresque comic novel (kokkei-bon) written by Jippensha Ikku (十返舎一九, 1765–1831), about the misadventures of two travelers on the Tōkaidō, the main road between Kyoto and Edo during the Edo Period. The book was published in twelve parts between 1802 and 1822.

The two main characters, traveling from Edo to Kyoto on their pilgrimage to the Ise Shrine, are called Yajirobē (彌次郎兵衛) and Kitahachi (喜多八). The book, while written in a comical style, was written as a traveler's guide to the Tōkaidō Road. It details famous landmarks at each of the 53 post towns along the road, where the characters, often called Yaji and Kita, frequently find themselves in hilarious situations. They travel from station to station, predominantly interested in food, sake, and women. As Edo men, they view the world through an Edo lens, deeming themselves more cultured and savvy in comparison to the countrymen they meet. Hizakurige is comic novel that also provides information and anecdotes regarding various regions along the Tōkaidō. Tourism was booming during the Edo Period, when this was written. This work is one of many guidebooks that proliferated, to whet the public's appetite for sight-seeing.

Some of the episodes from this novel have been illustrated by famous ukiyo-e artists such as Utagawa Hiroshige, in his One Hundred Views of Edo.

This information is taken directly from a Wikipedia site.

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