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Hiroshige’s waterfall



Type of spiritual experience


The Japanese have a particular fondness for mountains, trees, unusual rocks, rivers, and waterfalls, and other natural features.  As we have seen,  all these – in different ways – can induce a spiritual experience – waterfalls for example, achieve it from the sound generated.  Here we have a picture in which literal meaning combines with symbolic meaning.

A description of the experience

In this picture by Hiroshige – the Yoro waterfall in Mino province, we see a real waterfall that falls some thirty metres and is over four metres across.

Hokusai also included this waterfall in his series ‘Making the rounds of the waterfalls in all Province’ which rather indicates it is a bit special.

Notice that Hiroshige’s waterfall is devoid of human beings and that the upper edge of the print is bordered by clouds – an indication that this delivers a sort of spiritual truth concerning the waterfall and its effect.

We have white [aether] and red  [fire] as well as [air]. 

In later impressions the bottom of the picture is banded like the top half and shows the brown tones of the ‘earth’ layer of spiritual experience.

The water is colour coded the normal blue colour.

The source of the experience


Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image