Kai Province: Monkey Bridge from the series Nihon chishi ryakuzu (Simple Illustrations of Places in Japan)


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Kai Province: Monkey Bridge

from the series Nihon chishi ryakuzu

(Simple Illustrations of Places in Japan)

by Utagawa Hiroshige III, 1876

IHL Cat. #585

About This Print

Print number 13 十三 in the series Nihon chishi ryakuzu (Simple Illustrations of Places in Japan) consisting of at least 78 prints.  The series formed a type of geographical primer of Japan and the prints were sold individually and bound into albums as can be seen in the book in the collection of the British Museum, pictured below.

inside cover
print number 1
Utagawa Hiroshige III
Nihon chishi ryakuzu
Set of 74 half-block sheets, with two quarter-block title pages. Woodblock-printed.
British Museum Registration number:  1973,0723,0.34

This print pictures the Monkey Bridge (Saruhashi) over the Kakegawa Gorge in modern-day Yamanashi Prefecture. 

Kai Province (甲斐国, Kai no kuni), also known as Kōshū (甲州), is an old province in Japan in the area of Yamanashi Prefecture. It lies in central Honshū, west of Tokyo, in a landlocked mountainous region that includes Mount Fuji along its border with Shizuoka Prefecture.1

1 Wikipedia website http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kai_Province


Saruhashi is one of "Japan's Three Odd Bridges."  It is 33 meters high, 3.3 meters wide and 31 meters long.

The bridge is built over a narrow ravine, with four stacked haneki, or cantilevered members, embedded to the rock wall of both banks. The structural support is similar to architectural roofing.

The construction year is unknown, but there are records of this bridge style existing in 1676. The oldest estimation is that it was completed over 500 years ago. The bridge was restored in 1984.

Saruhashi c. 1880
Albumen tinted print

Saruhashi today

The bridge's name comes from a tale about the original construction of the bridge when a group of monkeys (sarudescended upon the partially completed bridge and used their bodies to span the incomplete sections, forming their own bridge.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Kai Province: Monkey Bridge
 Kai no kuni: Saruhashi 甲斐國 猿槁之圖
 Nihon chishi ryakuzu 日本地誌略図 (Simple Illustrations of Places in Japan or Topographical Sketches of Japan)
 Artist  Utagawa Hiroshige III (1842–1894)
 Signature Hiroshige ga 廣重画
 Seal  none
 Publication Date 1876 (Meiji 9)
 Publisher Fujiokaya Keijirō 藤岡屋慶次郎 (family name: Mizuno Keijirō 水野慶次郎) [Marks: pub. ref. 062] publisher's name or seal not present on this collection's print.
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition fair - full size; not backed, water stain lower left corner; 1/2" tear top margin into image repaired from back; other small tears in margin only
 Genre ukiyo-e, fūkei-ga
 Format chuban
 H x W Paper
 7 1/8 x 9 7/8 in. (18.1 x 25.1 cm)
 H x W Image
 6 3/8 x 8 7/8 in. (16.2 x 22.5 cm)

 Collections This Print
 British Museum 1973,0723,0.34