Artist: Hokusai Katsushika (1760 – 1849)
Title: Yahagi Bridge at Okazaki on the Tokaido
Series: Remarkable Views of Bridges in Various Provinces
Publisher: Nishimuraya Yohachi
Published: circa 1834
Dimensions: 25.6 x 37.4 cm
This print is part of the “Remarkable Views of Bridges in Various Provinces” series and depicts the Yahagi bridge in Okazaki in Aichi province, located along the famous Tokaido road.
In this image, Yahagi bridge spans a wide riverbed that seems to be running almost dry and is occupied by a group of men performing kyuudo, traditional Japanese archery, for the local lord. The viewer sees this group through the intricate arrangement of stilts supporting the bridge. The archers are rendered in minute detail and are located towards the side of the riverbed, while their target is placed further away, on the far left of the composition.
Yahagi bridge itself is a beautiful curve bisecting the print. It is being traversed by a large number of people; lone travellers, people on horseback, as well as those carrying a palanquin can be spotted within the crowd. On either end of the bridge, houses can be seen peeking out from hills and shrubbery.
Where are all of these people going? What lies beyond the edges of the print?
The way this scene is set up, invites the viewer into it, involving us in the bustle of everyday-life of the Edo period.