Sarusawa-ike (Sarusawa Pond) is a lake in the center of the city of Nara with views of the five-story pagoda of Kofukuji Temple, which reflects in the water when the pagoda is illuminated at night.
Sarusawa-ike is an artificial pond that was dug in 749 as part of the grounds of Kofukuji Temple. Legend has it that during the Nara Period (AD 710-794) a court maid drowned herself in the lake after she fell out of favor following a love affair with an emperor. Uneme Shrine, a sub-shrine of Kasuga Grand Shrine, is said to have been built to pray for her soul (Uneme were court attendants). The shrine torii is turned away from the lake to avoid the soul of the dead girl having to gaze on its waters.
The Woodblock Print
This small woodblock print is in excellent condition. Strong color, no fading, no marks of any kind. Tiny bits of residue from being tipped in the top corners, but not affecting the integrity of the piece at all.
About the Artist
Tsuchiya Koitsu is a well-known artist of the Shin Hanga movement, but not among the trendy names like Hasui. As with many shin hanga artists, Tsuchiya Koitsu specialized in landscape images.
Born in 1879 in rural Japan with the given name Koichi. He became a student of the ukiyo-e master Kiyochika Kobayashi (1847-1915) after starting an apprenticeship for a woodblock carver who worked for Kiyochika. Soon the ukiyo-e master himself took care of the young Koitsu, where he stayed and worked for 19 years in the home of his master. From 1931 on, Tsuchiya Koitsu became one of the artists working for the publisher Watanabe in the shin hanga style. His style is reminiscent of the works of his master Kobayashi and of the famous shin hanga artists Kawase Hasui and Hiroshi Yoshida. In typical shin hanga style Tsuchiya Koitsu intensively used the effects of light to create moods and emotions in his images.