Evening at Kintaibashi in Spring (1947) by Kawase Hasui is a beautiful piece by Kawase Hasui where the beautiful arched bridge was adorned with cherry blossom flowers in the foreground. Kintaibashi, located in Iwakuni-shi, still exists today and is touted to be one of the three Japanese famous bridges for its beautiful arches and wooden structure. Kawase Hasui strategically positioned the angle of the arched bridge from a spot where both the top and undersides of the bridge could be seen; the top was overlaid with wooden stairs and the bottom shows complex engineering geometrical features which served as the backbone of the bridge. In the center, the man on a boat gives life to the entire piece, which might have looked empty without his presence; his posture whilst rowing the boat illustrates his skills which seemed to have been honed through many years.
The blue to orange gradation in the evening sky emits a melancholic feel as it’s a time where people have wind down from the busy afternoon; the reflection of the man in the river further amplifies the unsaid loneliness. In the background, traditional Japanese towns with tiled rooftops could be seen, which gives some historical insights into the lives of the people back in the past. It used to be a castle town where merchants and warriors lived under the rule of feudal lord of Iwakuni, Kikkawashi. The 193.3-meter long arched bridge was first built in 1673 by him to join the two opposite populated riverbanks to facilitate for easy transportation. The bridge was built with arches to prevent it from being washed away during floods; however it failed to stand against the flood which occurred a year later in 1674. The arched bridge was immediately rebuilt and after which it lasted for a lengthy 276 years before it yielded to the flooding brought along by the Typhoon Kezia in 1950.
The arched bridge was then rebuilt in 1953. From 2001-2003, the arched bridge has been fully restored to its original form, thanks to the local activists who enthusiastically fought for its maintenance for it has long-standing historical and cultural values. While there were only two arches shown in the EVENING AT KINTAIBASHI IN SPRING (1947) by Kawase Hasui, there were in fact a total of five arches where its highest peak was approximately 13 meter up high; it’s quite an amazing engineering feat considering that it was first built in 1673, Kawase Hasui must have been impressed by its height as the bridge was captured in a portrait rather than a landscape form. Kawase Hasui also impressively carved each and single pebbles of the riverbanks and stones used to build the base of the arched bridge; his painstaking efforts have resulted in a beautiful realistic piece which looked so modern like a photograph, and if you were to travel to Iwakuni-shi today, you’d be impressed by the fact that Kawase Hasui has faithfully captured down every single details of the area, which never failed to charm people from all over the world.
This amazing article written by Yeong!