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HASUI - Japanese Woodblock Print -Night at Hommonji Temple, Ikegami - 1955

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HASUI - Japanese Woodblock Print -Night at Hommonji Temple, Ikegami - 1955

KAWASE HASUI

Night at Hommonji Temple, Ikegami


Date: 1955, published by Watanabe, this is a later edition made from the first edition wood blocks
Size: oban, with full margins, 10.625" X 15.5"
Condition: Fine, no flaws, never framed, uncirculated condition
Impression: Fine, excellent registration and key lines, nice surface texture
Color: Fine, deep saturated color with bleed through to verso
Documentation: Kawase Hasui: The Complete Woodblock Prints, Hotei, 2003
ABOUT HOMMONJI TEMPLE
Honmonji Temple was founded by Nichiren just before his death at the request of Munenaka Ikegami. Nichiren was critical of the established schools of Buddhism that relied on state patronage and merely served the interests of the powerful while encouraging passivity in the suffering masses. In 1271 Nichiren was arrested and taken in the early hours of the morning to a beach named Tatsunokuchi to be beheaded. The execution was abandoned, however, when a bright object appeared in the night sky, terrifying the executioners. He was subsequently exiled to the island of Sado, where conditions were especially harsh. Nichiren survived freezing conditions with little food or shelter, coming close to starvation on several occasions. Despite the severity of his situation he continued to write prolifically, sending letters of encouragement and instruction to his disciples, among which are counted some of his most important works.

The Soshido Hall at Hommonji is where a statue of Nichiren is enshrined. This statue, the only embodiment of Nichiren in the temple, was made by his disciples on the seventh anniversary of his death. It is designated an important cultural property of Japan. Behind this hall is the Honden Hall where Shakyamuni-Buddha and four bodhisattvas are enshrined; ceremonial services are performed here. Behind the Honden is the octagonal Gobyo-sho (mausoleum) where the ashes of Nichiren are enshrined. It is constructed entirely of hinoki Japanese cypress. The five-story pagoda was built in 1608. It is the oldest five-story pagoda in Tokyo. On March 15, 1945, the temple was subjected to heavy bombing resulting in the destruction of all the structures except the main gate, the five-story pagoda, the Kyozo (a repository of Buddhist scriptures) and the Hoto (a pagoda). The temple was completely reconstructed through contributions from followers throughout Japan.


ABOUT KAWASE HASUI
Kawase Hasui (1883 – 1957) was a Japanese woodblock print maker in the early 20th century. He and Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950) are widely regarded as two of the greatest artists of the shin hanga style, and are known especially for their excellent landscape prints. During the forty years of his artistic career, Hasui worked closely with Watanabe Shozaburo (1885-1962), publisher and advocate of the shin hanga movement. His works became widely known in the West through American connoisseur Robert O. Muller (1911-2003). In 1956, he was named a Living National Treasure in Japan.

Hasui worked almost exclusively on landscape and townscape prints based on sketches he made in Tokyo and during travels around Japan. However, his prints are not merely meisho (famous places) prints that are typical of earlier ukiyo-e masters such as Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). Hasui’s prints feature locale that are tranquil and obscure in the then-urbanizing Japan. The dreamlike quality in Hasui’s prints epitomizes a yearning for the past and a preservation of the past in the midst of rapid modernization.


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