It’s official: our clocks are set back. We relished that “extra” weekend hour and are ready to settle in for some long winter nights. And sure, we’ll miss those late summer sunsets, but it’s not all bad. The bright side of DST ending? Magical city lights bring that cold weather coziness to life. We’re celebrating the season of snug with a new Vintage Edition from Japanese artist Uehara Konen (1878-1940). Created in 1928, Dōtonbori is an enchanting view into a rare, quiet moment in the normally bustling tourist section of Osaka.
Through a delicate silhouette of a cascading willow tree, we’re transported to the banks of the Dōtonbori canal. With washes of deep indigo and emphasis on shadowed forms, Dōtonbori exemplifies the mōrō-tai style, a modernist approach to woodblock prints made popular during the Meiji period of Japan. Hazy, diffuse forms—influenced by popular Western artistic styles at the time—were favored over the delicate line drawings of earlier, Edo ukiyo-e woodblock prints. Similar to Konen’s Hatō zu waves, Dōtonbori captures a moment frozen in time with impressionistic dynamicism.
The loosely curved ripples in the water reflect the dim lantern lighting from the barge and town windows, an effect reminiscent of another popular Meiji style, kōsenga—an approach pioneered by Kobayashi Kiyochika. Similar to Kiyochika’s Fireworks at Ikenohata, light is the protagonist in Konen’s nocturnal scene. From the dramatic backlighting of the tree branches to the refracted light revealing quiet canal movement, and even the subtle glow of the top of the barge illuminated by the moon—each element in Dōtonbori is produced by light.
Konen’s photographic perspective can’t help but summon up thoughts of wonderful, bewitching nights. So for all you winter hibernators and DST doomsdayers, this one’s for you. A celebration of light, for the darkest days ahead.