Bay of Noboto by Hokusai is a part of the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series by Hokusai where the symmetrical silhouette of the mountain could be seen through the arch of the Torii gate, giving a sense of nostalgia. The sea was in a low tide and two Torii gates were partially submerged in water. Taking advantage of the low tide, people were digging for clams; this is a familiar sight as clam-digging activities are still being done today. Similarly, it looked like young kids enjoyed the activity in the past too, as we see two cheeky kids playing with each other on the left under the smaller Torii gate.
From the equipment in the grasp of the lady on the left, we could observe that civilization was fairly advanced at that point of time despite the fact that most of the coastal area was covered in green, which seems to be void of any manmade structures. However, careful observations lead us to the thatched rooftops of houses which were slightly exposed in the back. Its shape was akin that of the Mount Fuji and the choice of color makes the resemblance even stronger; this might be intentional on Hokusai’s part. In fact, on the bottom right area, we see a close-up view of the thatched rooftop which seemed to have merged into nature with dried grasses, which is a detail that could easily be missed without close inspection.
The old man on the right has a basket filled with clams and this illustrates his expertise which he has nurtured through experience. Meanwhile, his other partner has a basket filled with seaweed, which the place seemed to be blessed with in abundance, as strings of fuzzy seaweeds could be seen hanging off the coast. In the background, two people were taking the clam-digging activity seriously as they were bent down with their calves and hands fully submerged.
We also see a couple of boats on the left side, which illustrated the differences in the depth of water; Hokusai also cleverly made some gradation with colors to distinguish between the sandy exposed ground and water. The green color of trees on the right gives another dimension. The sky was colored with a strip of white, which implied that the sun has yet to set. Interestingly, the clouds were shaped like the bay of Noboto and this made it looked as though the land’s stretching on for eternity. Even the front of Mt Fuji was covered in greenery.
While the date or season was not made explicitly known in this piece, we could see that the weather must have been quite comfortable from the light and breezy traditional outfits donned by the people captured in this piece, coupled with that fact that plantations were vibrantly green at that point of time. The wide brim straw hat of the person on the right also implied that it must have been quite sunny. Hokusai’s once again showing his exceptional talent as he captured down the little details of ordinary people which tells a thousand words that could be interpreted even hundreds of years later.
This amazing article written by Yeong!