Monkey Bridge, 1956
Gift of D. Lee Rich, P’78 ’80 and John Hubbard Rich, Jr., Class of 1939 Litt.D. 1974, P’78 ’80
While many prints depict the famous Monkey Bridge from a distance, Hiratsuka reveals the clever cantilevered design of the bridge’s underside close-up. Inspired by the image of monkeys holding hands to cross the river, the wooden Monkey Bridge is a 1,300-year-old architectural feat that spans two high cliffs flanking the Katsura River in Yamanashi prefecture in central Japan. Monkey Bridge displays Hiratsuka’s well-known style—powerful, jagged lines—that suggests the revered landmark’s strength. Hiratsuka preferred black and white, which he argued were more beautiful than colors, and appreciated both their bold contrast and the solitary strength of black ink. Evident in this print is Hiratsuka’s technique of tsuki-bori (literally called “poking carving”), which employed a square-tip tool rocked from side to side to create a jagged line.