boat cast adrift

                                                                      A Boat Cast Adrift,
(Ukifune),  Sata Yoshirō, 1966


"Without a word, he took Ukifune up in his arms and carried her off. Jijū followed after and Ukon was left to watch the house. Soon they were aboard one of the boats that had seemed so fragile out on the river. As they rowed into the stream, she clung to Niou, frightened as an exile to some hopelessly distant shore. He was delighted. The moon in the early-morning sky shone cloudless upon the waters."                                                                                             -Chapter 51
, "The Tale of Genji"



Sata Yoshirō’s long engagement with copying sections of the National Treasure Genji Scrolls no doubt inspired him to create this screen of Chapter 51, “A Boat Cast Adrift.” The most common depiction of this episode, established by the seventeenth century, shows Ukifune and Niou in a boat on the Uji River, near a small island  in the snow. Sata eliminates the landscape details and focuses on the couple drifting with the current under the reflection of the moon. The Uji River is shown in white, its current captured with ink lines, and the figures glow under the golden moonlight. Close examination of Ukifune’s striking long hair reveals the subtle yet effective accents of ultramarine mineral pigment in the black ink.                             -The Met