Among Japan's famous beauty spots, perhaps few are adapted more dramatically to the paired-screen format than Uji Bridge, willows and waterwheels in the moonlight. The conventional pictorial treatment is to convey the passage of the seasons by modifying the size of the willow leaves from spring, on the right panel, to summer, on the left, where, on this screen, they are longer and less defined.
The Uji River starts as the Seta River that emanates from Lake Biwa, flows through southern Kyoto as the Uji and from Nara as the Yodo River, which empties into Osaka Bay (for a map of Osaka Bay, see lot 544). The original bridge is said to have been built in the seventh century. In the far right of the right panel is a waterwheel and in the center foreground is a basket of stones designed to control the flow of water and to protect the riverbanks. Interspersed with the bands of mist in gold leaf are scalloped clouds arranged with large pieces of cut gold leaf. The half moon in the left panel is silver. The surface has a later coating of varnish. This example of the theme dates from the eighteenth century, about a thousand years after the site entered the poetic canon. Uji serves as the setting for the last ten chapters of The Tale of Genji, ending with "The Bridge of Dreams."