Hokusai

Yōrō Waterfall in Mino Province

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About the Art

This waterfall in the town of Yōrō (Gifu prefecture today) was renowned as a source of miracles. Its healing waters are referenced in a legend about the filial piety of a son who sought the healing properties of the water to help his ailing father. The boy managed to take some water back with him, and upon returning home it had transformed into sake. After drinking the miraculous draft, his father was revivified.

The real falls are some 100ft tall, but here Hokusai has chosen to deliberately diminish their height to avoid the necessity of making the human figures tiny by comparison. It is not known whether Hokusai actually visited the location himself. 

The waterfall was illustrated in the gazetteer "Famous Places on the Kiso Highway in 1805, allowing us to identify the small building in the bottom right as a simple guest house for weary travellers.