Foujita crafted “Events in Akita” with the desire that the viewer could grasp the “complete story of Akita” by looking at it. As such, he wanted to touch on the locals’ lifestyles, culture, traditions, history and livelihoods. All of these sentiments come through in the bridge at the center of the piece, with the words “Koro-Gibashi” carved into its railing. Foujita was reportedly delighted when he visited this bridge, saying it “sounded like ancient times.” The bridge is crucial to the composition of the whole piece, acting as a boundary between the festival scenery to the right of the viewer and the everyday life scenes depicted to the left.
The Koro-Gibashi bridge still exists in Akita today. Its name comes from the purity of the aloes wood that it’s made of - wood which was also used to create fragrant incenses, hence the use of the character for “scent” in the name. It’s said that there once was a government office near the bridge during the Nara Period, and that people would stop there to purify themselves prior to entering the nearby Koshio Shrine, which is the oldest in all of Akita.
Edo-Period travelogue writer Masumi Sugae wrote the following about this bridge:
“A plank blazed alight when a Naniwan sailor struck a fuse on top of this bridge. It issued a fragrance so wonderful that, thinking it was an aromatic wood, he replaced the older planks with new ones, then took the old ones and sold them for a princely sum.”
The bridge Foujita studied was reportedly still wooden. Though the present stone bridge has replaced the wooden one, the Koro-Gibashi in Foujita’s mural faces a vista of an ancient castle atop a hill. Nowadays, that hilltop is quiet, but once upon a time a castle stood upon its summit where many people visited. We encourage you to try and grasp the sounds of the past and the flow of time eternal as Foujita felt them upon contemplating this land.