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Zōjōji Temple in Shiba from the series Scenes of Last Tokyo


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Zōjōji Temple in Shiba

from the series Scenes of Last Tokyo

by Yamaguchi Gen, 1945


IHL Cat. #120

About This Print

One of fifteen prints from the 1945 series Scenes of Last Tokyo.  This print was one of seven new designs for the series, the other eight prints originally appearing in the 1929-1932 series Shin Tokyo hyakkei (One Hundred Views of New Tokyo).

Zōjōji Temple History

Source: Zozoji website http://www.zojoji.or.jp/en/index.html
Zōjōji was founded in 1393 as an orthodox and fundamental nembutsu1 seminary for Jodo shu2 in the Kanto (east Japan) region.

Zōjōji was relocated to the present site in 1598 after Ieyasu Tokugawa, founder of the Tokugawa shogunate, entered Edo (present-day Tokyo) in 1590 to establish his provincial government. After the start of the Edo Period when the Tokugawa shogunate ruled Japan, Zōjōji became the family temple of the Tokugawa family and an unparalleled grand cathedral was built. Zōjōji also served as an administrative center to govern the religious studies and activities of Jodo shu. In those days, its precincts covered an area of 826,000 square meters which also contained 48 smaller attached temples and about 150 grammar schools. Moreover, as many as 3,000 priests and novices always resided here as students.

Nevertheless, as the Tokugawa shogunate came to an end and the Meiji Era started, an anti-Buddhist movement got under way. The cathedral, temples and the mausoleum of the Tokugawa family were burned down by air raids during World War II. Thus, Zōjōji was profoundly affected by political and social circumstances. Today, however, its cathedral and other structures have been rebuilt, and Zōjōji continues to serve as the main temple of Jodo shu and the central nembutsu seminary for priests and novices. Furthermore, it has endeared itself to the general public as both a grand Buddhist temple typical of the metropolis Tokyo and a hub of religious and cultural activities.

 Label from original folio
芝増上寺  山口源
  Zozoji Temple today

1 The word literally means "buddha in mind" and it has come to mean verbal recitation of the words "I take refuge in Amitabha Buddha" in one language or another.
Jōdo shū (浄土宗, "The Pure Land School"), also known as Jodo Buddhism, is a branch of Pure Land Buddhism derived from the teachings of the Japanese ex-Tendai monk Hōnen. It was established in 1175 and is the most widely practiced branch of Buddhism in Japan, along with Jodo Shinshu.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #120
 Title  Zōjōji Temple in Shiba
 芝増上寺 Shiba Zōjōji 
 Series  Scenes of Last Tokyo [also seen translated as Recollections of Tokyo]
 東京回顧図会 Tokyo kaiko zue
 Yamaguchi Gen (1896-1976)
 Seal  artist's seal "Gen"
 Publication Date  December 1945
 Edition  likely first edition
 Publisher  Fugaku Shuppansha 富岳出版社, Tokyo, Uemura Masurō 上村益郎 publisher
 Printer  Hirai Kōichi 平井孝一
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  good - random printers ink in left and bottom margins; tape remnants on corners of top margin verso from previous mounting in original non-archival presentation folder
 Genre  sosaku hanga (creative print)
 Format  chuban
 H x W Paper  7 3/4 x 10 3/4 in. (19.7 x 27.3 cm)
 H x W Image  7 1/8 x 9 3/8 in. (18.1 x 23.8 cm)
 Collections This Print  Los Angeles County Museum of Art M. M.81.267.28; Carnegie Museum of Art 89.28.709.15; Mead Art Museum at Amherst College AC 2008.63.9; Smithsonian Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery S1995.118.1; Portland Art Museum 1996.31.2i
 Reference Literature  The Artist's Touch, The Craftsman's Hand: Three Centuries of Japanese Prints from the Portland Art Museum, Maribeth Graybill, Portland Art Museum, Oregon, 2011, p. 299; Made in Japan: The Postwar Creative Print Movement, Alicia Volk, Milwaukee Art Museum, 2005, p. 35; Modern Japanese Prints: The Twentieth Century, Amanda T. Zehnder, Carnegie Museum of Art, 2009, p. 182