Hiratsuka Un’ichi (1895-1997)
The Hot Springs at Izu, Yugano
(Izu Yugano onsen), c. 1930
Color woodblock print
11 1/4 x 10 inches (28.6 x 25.4 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Bequest of
Warren H. and Mary I. Watanabe, 2001
In Kawabata Yasunari’s (1899-1972) short story “The Dancing Girl of Izu,” a young man stays at the Yugano inn during his travels. Kawabata’s tale, one of the most popular ever written by the 1968 Nobel Laureate, was published in 1926 just a few years before Hiratsuka made this woodcut. Here the artist depicts a traveler washing his feet in the Kawazu River prior to entering the famous inn. The figure’s food basket and sandals await him on the shore. Yugano lies on the Izu Peninsula, southwest of Tokyo, where geothermal activity produces numerous hot springs. Inns around such natural spas became popular destinations, and the one at Yugano was especially beloved thanks to its association with Kawabata’s story.