Sakai Oho, (1808 - 1841)
Nunobiki Waterfall from The Tale of Ise
(Nunobiki no taki)
hanging scroll, ink and color on silk; signed Shigen Oho hitsu with one artist's seal Hansei
painting 35 5/8 by 12 3/4 in., 90.5 by 32.5 cm
overall 71 1/4 by 17 7/8 in., 181 by 45.5 cm
Nunobiki Falls, located near downtown Kobe, is actually comprised of four separate waterfalls: Ondaki, Mendaki, Tsusumigadaki, and Meotodaki. The Nunobiki is considered one of the great divine falls of Japan (along with the Kegon Falls and the Nachi Falls), and is frequently referenced in Japanese art and literature. One of the most famous associations is from an episode from The Tale of Ise (Ise Monogatari) which describes a trip taken by a minor official and his guests to the falls where they engage in a poetry-writing contest. One of the guests, a commander of the guards, contributes:
Which, I wonder, is higher-
This waterfall or the fall of my tears
As I wait in vain,
Hoping today or tomorrow
To rise in the world
The minor official offers his own composition in reply:
It looks as though someone
Must be unstringing
Those clear cascading gems.
Alas! My sleeves are too narrow
To hold them all
Kobayashi Tadashi, Rinpa Painting: Scenes from Literature, People, Vol. IV, Shikosha Publishing Co., Ltd, 1990, pp. 48-49
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(212) 585-0474 or email
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site last updated
August 5, 2020
Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475
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