Kobayashi Kiyochika – Taro-inari Shrine at Asakusa


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The full moon rises to light the countryside near the torii gated entrance to the Taro-inari shrine at Asakusa. A line of wood planks, placed to allow pilgrims to traverse the worn and muddy path, stretches to the gate.

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Originally a family shrine of a royal official dedicated to the Shinto god Inari Okami, the Taro-Inari shrine was located in the Asakusa ricefields behind the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters. Inari is one of the principal Shinto gods, represented as male, female, androgynous, or in form of a white fox. Inari is a god of fertility and harvest, especially rice and sake. Inari’s protection expanded from swordsmiths to blacksmiths and warriors, fishermen and merchants, prostitutes and actors. Inari shrines were worshipped for fulfilling desires, luck, prosperity, and good health. Around 1803 the Taro Inari shrine suddenly became the focus of a popular cult, probably in reaction to some wish-granting miracle, but by the 1870s it had fallen into disrepair and today there is no trace of it whatsoever. That this is one of only two designs in Kiyochika’s views of Tokyo series in which there are absolutely no figures illustrated, underscoring the pervasive sense of loneliness in the composition.

The Composition

A lonely composition with not a person to be seen, the viewer takes in the lonely scene by themselves as they walk down the wooden path towards the gate. Rich bokashi fades to the horizon, coupled with the perspective lines and the path leading the viewer toward their goal.

The Woodblock Print

A very richly colored, uncirculated print, never framed; “Made in Japan” is stamped in the bottom margin on verso while the Shima Art Company publisher mark is on the front bottom left corner. Tight registration and solid keylines with┬ádeep saturated color and bleed through to verso. Minor residual paper from where the print was tacked to a folio in the top corners.

About the Artist

Kiyochika Kobayashi was born September 10, 1847, in Asakusa district in Tokyo. He worked as an independant painter, printmaker and illustrator for newspapers. The woodblock prints by Kiyochika Kobayashi cover a wide range of genres and styles. Kiyochika Kobayashi is regarded as an important artist of the Japanese Meiji period who paved the way for following generations of Japanese printmakers from the traditional ukiyo-e to the new shin hanga art movement.

Additional information


Kobayashi Kiyochika


Chuban (7"x10")






(A+) Excellent Condition

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