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Weather or Not

Caught in a Downpour
Kiyochika Kobayashi<br>Japanese, 1847-1915<br><I>Rain at Saegusa Bridge in Hakone</I><br>Color woodblock print<br>Minneapolis Institute of Arts<br>Gift of Louis W. Hill, Jr.
zoom Kiyochika Kobayashi
Japanese, 1847-1915
Rain at Saegusa Bridge in Hakone
Color woodblock print
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Gift of Louis W. Hill, Jr.


It takes only a moment to figure out that a rainstorm is taking place in this scene. How does the artist let you know? Maybe you were tipped off by the dark gray sky blanketing everything in the picture—the trees, buildings, bridge, and river. Or perhaps it was the sharp diagonal white lines, representing sheets of rain.

Look closely and you will see other signs of the harsh weather. In the right foreground, two people about to cross the bridge have hunched up their backs against the rain and wind. The figure in yellow has also bent his head down, for more protection from the storm. It’s easy to imagine that one more gust of wind might blow these people to the ground!

The setting for this scene is the Saegusa Bridge in Hakone, Japan. It is not surprising that the artist decided to show a rainstorm. Like most of Japan, Hakone has a long rainy season in June and July and a typhoon season, which brings hurricanes, in September.

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1. This woodblock print illustrates another rainy day. How did the artist create the illusion of rain here?
Hiroshige Utagawa and Magohachi Takenouchi, Shono: Driving Rain, 1832-35, color woodblock print, The Margaret McMillan Webber Estate
2. Japanese woodblock prints often picture scenes of everyday life. In the spring and summer, rain is common in Japan.
Hiroshige Utagawa and Magohachi Takenouchi, Spring Rain, Tsuchiyama, 1832-35, color woodblock print, Gift of Louis W. Hill Jr.


November 2007