Sōtatsu: Making Waves

Nobles Viewing the Nunobiki Falls, Tales of Ise, episode 87

Nobles Viewing the Nunobiki Falls, Tales of Ise, episode 87In this episode, a man and his friends from the Imperial Guard visit his estate at Ashiya and the waterfalls nearby. The Nunobiki Falls were famous for their grand height and for the large boulder in the upper section that split the falling water into smaller streams. The picture depicts the entourage viewing the falls, whose monumentality is suggested by the cropping of its mouth at top. One member of the group reads a poem that compares the falling water to cascading tears. Cleverly, the calligraphy reads from left to right (rather than in the Japanese style of right to left), matching the directional gaze of the figures. This sheet was owned by Dan Takuma (1858–1932), a Mitsui executive and protégé of Masuda Takashi.

Nobles Viewing the Nunobiki Falls, Tales of Ise, episode 87
Tawaraya Sōtatsu (act. ca. 1600–40)
Japan, early to mid-17th century
Poetry sheet mounted as hanging scroll
Ink, colors, and gold on paper
Minneapolis Institute of Arts, John R. Van Derlip Fund, 66.40

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