Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Kouen Okamoto: Snake Bridge

Kouen Okamoto
Japanese short lived printmaker.

The three miniature (9 x 6 cm.) prints by Okamoto shown in this posting are all I could find. They are half-postcard size. They show the bridge, shrine and pagoda at the Nikko temple complex in the heart of Japan. It’s one of Japans holy places and a National Treasure. 

If you’ld like to own a little true gem at a small price: unsigned but original  copies lately are on Ebay regularly. I couldn't resist, it has all a good print should have, atmosphere, design, originality and great colors. I mean: that's one hell of  shower ! Just compare his print with the ones below. I suppose Okamota’s short life (32) explains his very small output. On the other hand, Schubert had been extremely prolific in his 32 years on the planet as was Mozart in his only 34. Probably printmakers mature more slowly.  

left: contemporary, right: anno 1910 
center: in winter.

The sacred Shinkyo bridge ("Snake bridge") is the gateway to the temples and shrines built by the Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa, founder of the clan which ruled Japan for three centuries, from the 17th to the 19th century.
 left: Yoshitoshi (Taiso) Tsukicha (1834-1892) right: N.N. 
center: Toyohara Chikanoba (1838-1912)

Most of the Japanese classic printmakers created a print showing the Shinkyo bridge or one of the other structures in the complex. But the red lacquered bridge is understandably the most popular. 
left: Gihachiro Okuyama (1907-1981)             right: Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950)

left: Kishio Koizumi (1893-1945),         right: Tokuriki Tomichiro (1902-2000)
left: Hasui Kawase (1883-1957),      right: Yoshida Hiroshi (1876-1950), right

left and right: Koitsu Tsuchia (1870-1949) 
left:  Ito Yuhan (1867-1942)         right:  Shiro Kasamatsu (1898-1991)
Hiroaki Takahashi (1871-1945)

This posting wasn't supposed to be a summing up of all(?) Shinkyo Bridge prints but the occasion arisen I thought it great fun seeing so many of them together. I love pictures of bridges spanning rivers and passing through great cities. In old photographs, prints and paintings. I'm a Brangwyn follower. Impressive and connecting, always interesting because of the perspective, people and trafic.

All pictures in this posting embiggen by mouseclick by the way. And you should visit the great site of Artelino learning more about Japanese prints.

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly and educational use only.


  1. Hi Gerrie,

    Really beautiful grouping. You always put so much research into your blogs. I looked at the images over and over again, finding the little differences. Snow and rain, they add so much to a picture.


    1. Well, in this case I found quite a few together in the ARTELINO-site and found even some more Googling. I aim to add only to the Internet article-postings that weren't there before. Often just scraping things together. Lovely print isn't it ?