The Tōkaidō road, linking the shogun's capital, Edo, to the imperial one, Kyoto, was the main travel and transport artery of old Japan. It is also the most important of the "Five Roads"—the five major roads of Japan created or developed during the Edo period to further strengthen the control of the central shogunate administration over the whole country.
The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō was such a popular subject that it led Hiroshige to create some 30 different series of woodcut prints on it, all very different one from the other by their size, their designs or even their number.
The Hōeidō edition of the Tōkaidō is Hiroshige's best known work, and the best sold ever ukiyo-e Japanese prints. Coming just after Hokusai's Thirty-six View of Mt. Fuji series, it established this new major theme of ukiyo-e, the landscape print with a special focus on "famous views". These landscape prints took full advantage of the new possibilities offered by the Western representation of perspective, that Japanese artists had by now fully assimilated. Hiroshige's series met with full success, not only in Japan, but later in Western countries.