Shinkyo, the Sacred Bridge at Nikko, is the entrance to Futarasan Shrine. It was rebuilt in today’s shape with its red lacquered paint in 1636 by the third Tokugawa shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu (1603 – 51). The construction 1636 replaced a bridge construction from 808. In 1902 it was completely washed away by a flood and reconstructed from ground. Shinkyo is supported by stone pillars.
Yuhan’s unique style of printing without black key block outlines provides the perfect means of simulating the soft watercolor look that creates such a captivating scene.
The Woodblock Print
This oban-sized woodblock is likely a pre-war printing based on the publisher stamp on the verso. Rich, unflawed color that captures the full range of warm and cool-color transitions in the signature style of Ito Yuhan where the lack of block lines creates a delicate watercolor-like feel and enables incredible bokashi shading. Intact margins and no discolorations within the print. Some tape residue on the upper margin, but nothing that impacts the image itself. Professionally backed on acid-free rice paper.
About the Artist
Ito Yuhan ( 伊藤 雄半, 1882-1951) was primarily a landscape painter, but designed an extraordinary group of woodblock prints during the 1930’s for the publisher Nishinomiya. Yuhan’s print designs are usually characterized by vivid colors and subtle gradations. His unique style makes his prints look similar to watercolors, a key part of that style and technique is that his prints lack an outlining key block, enabling the colors to blend without lines. Yuhan’s soft style evokes the romantic beauty of Japan’s past; the absence of human figures adds to the sense of quiet timelessness.