Artist: Katsushika Hokusai
Title: Lake Suwa in Shinano Province
Date: 1831 c.
Details: More information...
Lake Suwa, a body of water about 3 miles long and 2 ½ miles wide, lies in the Suwa basin, about 120 miles west of Edo, in Shinano province (present-day Nagano prefecture). Around the edge of the lake, there developed towns including Kami Suwa and Shimo Suwa (Upper and Lower Suwa, respectively). Kami Suwa prospered as a town connected with an ancient castle that was once occupied by the famous warrior Takeda Shingen. Rebuilt in 1590, it was reinstated as a holding of the Suwa daimyö family by the shogunate. The district of Suwa was also located where two major highways converged – the Köshü and the Kiso road. The latter (also called the Nakasendö Road) ran through the mountainous regions and connected Edo and Kyoto. In this scene, the lake is viewed from a high position somewhere along the shore. The only recognizable landmark here is Takashima Castle, seen left of center and just below Mount Fuji, at the tip of the cape filled with houses. This must comprise the village of Shimo Suwa. Today the castle is located inland; it is presumed that the waters of Lake Suwa have receded since Hokusai’s time. In the center foreground two trees, which rise to the edge of the print, stand before a house or a shrine. It is said that the mountain is so far from the lake that it can be seen only on a fine day. The reddened sky indicates it is morning; the water in the distance is getting lighter blue, reflecting the sun. Shades of blue, except for the pink sky and the brown house, dominate the picture. The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 71. Cat. 22)