Hatsuhana Doing Penance Under the Waterfall (1842)

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About the Art

This print shows Hatsuhana, from Kuniyoshi's series Biographies of Wise Women and Virtuous Wives.

She kneels under the freezing cold cascade of the Tonozawa waterfall, in an act of penance and prayer for the healing of her son's knee.

As the tale goes, the cold was too much for her, and she died. All was not in vain, however, as her son's knee was miraculously healed, and he would go on to strike down his sworn enemy at the very same falls.

Kuniyoshi was a master of depicting water, in all its varied forms. Here we see 4 varieties of water in a single image, with the flat sheet of the falls, the splashing rays shining outward from Hatsuhana's head, the agitated waves around her feet and the frothing spray around her as it crashes against the rocks.