With woodblock prints, the Roadside Gallery coaxes passersby into a new world
From Edogawabashi Station, cross the Kanda River and walk for 7-8 minutes. Peaceful everyday scenes greet you. Neighborhood children and office workers pass by. On occasion, between the apartments that line the streets, one sees local restaurants serving soba noodles or grilled eel. Amidst all of this, one finds the “Roadside Gallery.” This art space transforms the northern wall of a warehouse into a window gallery. The gallery is sponsored by Yukiko Takahashi, the 6th generation leader of Takahashi Kobo, a workshop specializing in Edo woodblock prints.
“Our main workshop is located in a back alley,” says Ms. Takahashi, “so it is hard for first-time visitors to find. That is why we set up the gallery. It is a landmark for those who need it, and it can also be a pleasing sight to those who are passing by.”
The gallery features Ukiyo-e art from the Edo period alongside artwork by those with disabilities. The exhibits are changed every two weeks. Another attractive feature is the gallery’s seasonal themes, which can feature Sumida River’s fireworks in the summer and beautiful autumn colors in the fall.
A convenient spot to enjoy art in a casual atmosphere. Even ordinary passersby may find their footsteps slowing.
“In the Edo period, Ukiyo-e served a role similar to the information magazines of today,” says Ms. Takahashi. “In modern times, it may be normal to find traditional crafts and paintings in museums, but, as with Edo woodblock prints, I wanted for people to be exposed naturally to such beauty in their everyday lives.” If you find something in the gallery you like, the pieces are also available for purchase. Furthermore, the workshop behind the Roadside Gallery always has Edo woodblock prints on display, and the connected shop annex offers original Edo accessories. Feel free the pass through the workshop’s wooden doors. You may just find yourself in a rich, new world.