The Asakusa Kannon Temple (also known as Sensoji Temple) is Tokyo’s largest and oldest Buddhist temple and a significant tourist attraction. Legend says that in the year 628, two brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River, and even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them. When approaching the temple, visitors first enter through the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), the outer gate of the Sensoji and symbol of Asakusa which is marked by a 10 foot high paper lantern. The temple has been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times and is a significant part of Japanese and Buddhist heritage. Lanterns occupy much of the area of the Sensoji temple and are often imprinted with names of families, Buddhist blessings, well wishes and even swastika’s. The swastika, while having a negative Western connotation, is a sacred Buddhist symbol (occurring throughout history as early as the Paleolithic age and in many different cultures) often signifying balance or universal harmony and re-creation or infinity.
The design Asakusa Kanzeon no Naido (“The Interior of Asakusa Kannon Temple”) shows the entrance area of this temple located in Toyko. Large lanterns with Buddhist symbols (Manji) are hanging from the dark ceiling. The print was first published in 1932; most copies available were printed after World War II in the 1950s and 1960s, this print has the Watanabe 6mm seal indicating a printing between 1946-1957.
The Woodblock Print
This oban-sized woodblock is in excellent condition. Rich, saturated colors, delicate bokashi, crisp details, clean and intact margins and a clean verso. The print has the Watanabe 6mm seal in the corner denoting a printing between 1946 and 1957.
About the Artist
Narazaki Eishō 楢崎 栄昭 (1864-1936) given name is also seen written in English as Yeishō [榮昌] but later used the art names Fuyō 扶陽 (1916-1922) and Eishō (1922-1936). He learned the art of woodblock printing from Kobayashi Eitaku (1843-1890) and while working at the Printing Bureau of the Ministry of Finance in Tokyo, he learned copperplate printing from the Director, the Italian artist Eduardo Chiossone (1833-1898). In 1916 he began making prints for a foreign clientele under the pseudonym of Fuyō. In 1922 he assumed the name Eishō and set to work producing artistic prints. Later, he was among the artists who worked for the publisher Watanabe Shozaburo (1885-1962) in shin hanga style. Woodblocks by Eishō published by Watanabe include Inside Asakusa Kannon Temple (his best-known work), New Diet Building, Meiji Shrine, and Rissekiho Beach, Korea.