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Naruto Whirlpool, Awa Province, from the series Views of Famous Places in the Sixty-Odd Provinces (1853)

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About the Art

In this print we are confronted by the raw power and beauty of nature. In the foreground we look deep into the eye of the Naruto whirlpool in Awa province. As the tide rushes through the Naruto straits between Awaji Island and Tokushima, between the Pacific ocean and the inland sea, it creates violent currents that break out into sucking whirlpools.

In the midground we see a roiling spray as the waves crash against rocks that frame our view out across the channel towards the distant shore.

In contrast, the rolling hills on the far coast are bathed in the tranquil red glow of the Rising Sun. The flock of birds streaking out across the sky seem almost the offspring of the frothing crest of the great wave.

If Hiroshige wasn’t inspired by Hokusai’s Great Wave directly, we can clearly see some sense of homage to Hokusai’s iconic depiction of water in this print.

One of Hiroshige’s true masterpieces, Naruto Whirlpool in Awa Province was designed just 2 years before his death, the culmination of a life’s work.

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