Painted by Utagawa Kunisada I During the Tempō period (1830-1844) Tokyo Shiryō Collection 0421-C72

This is a nishiki-e (colored woodblock print) that depicts the front of Shirokiya, which was one of the three major kimono fabrics shops in Edo along with Echigoya (today's Mitsukoshi department store) and Daimaru (today's Daimaru department store). The vicinity of Nihonbashi was a fashion district lined with many kimono shops and cotton shops based in Kyoto, Ise and Matsuzaka.

In 1662 (Kanbun 2), Shirokiya, which was known as a fancy goods/kimono fabrics store in Kyoto, opened a shop on the Nihonbashi-dōri 3-chome.
The founder, Kimura Hikotarō from Ōmi (Shiga prefecture) was originally a lumber dealer. Later, he opened a fancy goods store to deal in pipes and other items and started to sell kimonos and cotton afterward. He gradually expanded his business and opened a branch in Edo. During the prime time of his business, he operated shops in Ichigaya, Tomizawa-chō, Bakuro-chō, and 150 employees were working at the branch in Nihonbashi.

nother noted product of Shiroki-ya was fresh water from the well that was dug by Hikotarō, a successor to the founder. The water around Nihonbashi was strongly contaminated with salt, and high-quality water was scarce, which made this well water widely known as "Shiraki Meisui (best and famous water)."