Wisteria at Kameido (1932) by Hasui Kawase

Hasui Kawase & His Stand-Out Perspective

Tsuchizaki, Akita (1928) from the series Souvenirs of Travel III by Hasui Kawase

Within the vastness of the floating world, one perspective stands out for its distinctiveness: that of Hasui Kawase. Born in 1883, he became a prominent figure in the shin hanga movement. Shin hanga prints are essentially modernized ukiyo-e, characterized by a more Westernized influence in terms of pigments used and artistic perspective.

Some of Hasui Kawase’s prints have an interesting vantage point, reminiscent of a photograph.

Sanno no zansetsu (Lingering in the Snow at Sanno, 1927) by Hasui Kawase

In Sanno no zansetsu, the shrine appears to dissipate into the forest from its off-center vantage point. The structure forms an acute angle from where the viewer stands, and that is another common feature of Kawase’s prints: their 3-Dimensionality.

Kintaikyo no shunsho (Spring Evening at the Kintai Bridge, 1947) by Hasui Kawase

A lot seems to be happening in Kintaikyo no shunsho, thanks in part to its perspective. The vantage point offers the finery of cherry blossoms in the foreground, while the full arches of the bridge add depth to the image. Because they are seen at an angle, the bridge appears lively and 3-D. A man in a small boat subtly creates action in the image, and it seems like Kawase captured him at just the right moment.

Moreover, the small boat lines up with a branch of the cherry blossom tree, leading the eye upwards into the bridge.

Wisteria at Kameido (1932) by Hasui Kawase

In Wisteria at Kameido, we also see a fullness of perspective created by the arches of the bridge. The bridge’s clear reflection on the river creates the illusion of a circle and thus a sense of completeness. On the upper plane, the lushly texturized wisteria flows downward in various shades of lavender. A small girl stands in the middle of bridge, gazing at the river. Some wisteria strands point towards her and her family making their way towards her, again creating a sense of photographic action in the image. Bold shading, layering and wavy lines emphasize the liveliness of the moment.

Thanks for reading! More of Hasui Kawase’s works can be found here.

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