A peaceful scene of a gentle spring rain at Gokokuji or Gokoku Temple in Tokyo. A tall pine tree on the right dwarfs the small figure of a woman below walking quietly towards the temple gate. A stunning portrayal of the cloudy sky and shimmering reflections on the watery pavement below.
Gokoku-ji (護国寺) is a Shingon Buddhist temple in Tokyo’s Bunkyō district. This Buddhist temple was established by the fifth shōgun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, who dedicated it to his mother.
The Woodblock Print
This oban-sized woodblock is in excellent condition; incredibly strong colors and clean margins without any discolorations or blemishes on the front. Deckled left and top edges. Watermarked paper in the top left corner. Clean verso. With Doi Hangaten publisher seal, Harada carver seal, and Yokoi printer seal; this print dates to circa 1950-1963.
About the Artist
One of the most sought-after Japanese printmakers, and perhaps the most recognizable shin-hanga landscape artist. Kawase Hasui (川瀬巴水, 1883-1957) was born to a textile dealer as the first son. His uncle was Kanagaki Robun, a famous playwright. A pupil of Kaburaki Kiyokata who gave him the go of “Hasui”. Afterwards, he got to know Watanabe Shozaburo, then had a chance to see “Omi Hakkei” created by Ito Shinsui from the same school as his, which brought about an interest in the woodblock printing. In 1918, he released three pieces of “Shiobara” from Watanabe Printshop, afterwards, produced a number of landscape prints throughout his life and is considered one of the greats of the Shin Hanga art movement in Japanese woodblock printing.
Notes when buying: Hasui woodblocks were printed and reprinted both during his lifetime and post-mortem. When evaluating a Hasui woodblock, it is important to look carefully at the publisher seal, which will give a rough approximation for when the print in question was published, which can then be compared to when that print was originally published. Learn more about recognizing Watanabe-published editions here.