Ono Waterfall on the Kisokaidō

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About the Art

This famous waterfall is located near the post-station of Agematsu on the Kiso highway, in Shinano province (modern Nagano prefecture). Shinto ascetics undertook the water discipline in the Ono Falls, standing under the icy water and chanting their mantras.

As we view the falls obliquely from the left, the water appears to bubble upward at the crest before falling downward. Hokusai and his printer created a fantastical atmosphere by contrasting an ominous, darkened sky with light blue coils of thin cloud rising to the right.

Art historians have identified the ‘Ono teahouse’ here in the bottom left, and the shrine to Fudō perched on a cliff edge jutting towards the waterfall in the center.

It is believed that Hokusai drew some of the "Tour of the Waterfalls" series from his imagination and other references. However, in volume 7 of Hokusai’s Sketches (Hokusai manga, 1817), Hokusai includes an illustration entitled ‘Ono waterfall, Shinano province’, suggesting he may have actually visited this spot himself.