Thirty-six Views of the Pride of Edo - The first bonito pick at Nihonbashi (Edo Jiman Sanjūrokkyō Nihonbashi Hatsu-gatsuo)
Painted by Utagawa Toyokuni III and Utagawa Hiroshige II 1864 (Genji 1) Tokyo Shiryō 0421-C2
This is a picture that truly shows the "pride of Edo", together with Nihonbashi, a symbol of the city of Edo, hatsugatsuo, the first bonito of the season much adored by the residents of Edo and their admiration was such that a senryū was composed, "Hatsugatsuo / to pawn one's wife for this is / a worthwhile exchange".
Among the choicest of the hatsumono (first products of the season), bonito was loved the most by people in Edo. Especially from the Meiwa and Anei (1764-1781) to Bunka and Bunsei (1804-1830) when there was a bonito boom which drove up the price of tuna to startling levels.
According to the recordings of representative writer of the Edo period Nanpo Ota (pen name Shokusanjin), in the third month of 1812 (9th year of Bunka), 6 out of 17 of the bonito brought to the Nihonbashi fish market were delivered to the shogun household, 3 to a famous restaurant Yaozen for the price of 2 ryo and 8 were handed to fishmongers and of these, one was bought by kabuki actor Utaemon Nakamura for the price of 3 ryo.
It is difficult to calculate these values according to today's values, but if one calculates them based on the price of rice, it would have been about 3-50,000 yen around the late Edo period. This should give us some idea of just how valuable bonito was then.