The grounds of Hōryūji (Hōryū Temple) house the world’s oldest surviving wooden structures, conveying images of Japan as it existed more than 1,300 years ago, during the Asuka Period (A.D. mid 6th – beginning of 8th c.). The story of Hōryūji’s founding can be seen in the historical writings engraved on the back of the halo of the Yakushi Nyorai Buddha statue, located on the eastern side of the room in the temple’s Main Hall, and in the official inventory of Hōryūji property holdings recorded in 747. According to these records, the emperor Yōmei vowed to build a temple and an image of a Buddha as a form of prayer for his own recovery from illness – a vow he was never fated to fulfill, for he died shortly thereafter.
The Woodblock Print
This “large oban”-sized woodblock is in very good condition, while defects to it are limited to the margins and verso. Strong, rich color, as opposed to the brighter colors used in later editions. There is tape discoloration to the verso, some of which bleeds through to the front, but limited to the margins.
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 Kobayashi. 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.