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Honmon Temple, Ikegami


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Honmon Temple, Ikegami

by Kawase Hasui, 1931

Chūzenji, Utagahama

IHL Cat. #2

About This Print

Catalog Raisonné Entry

Source: Kawase Hasui; The Complete Woodblock Prints, Brown, Kendall; Amy Reigle Newland, Amsterdam, Hotei Publishing, KIT Publishers, 2003, p. 88.
Narazaki1 (Hasui's biographer) believes that “There are few unsuccessful snowscapes by Hasui and in this regard he equals Hiroshige (1797-1858).  The treatment of the faint, distant snow-covered mountains, the centrally positioned pine, which heightens the sentiment of the piece; and the path leading to the Honmon temple in the vicinity of the Rezan bridge has the feeling of a sketch.”

1 Narazaki Muneshige, Hasui's biographer and compiler of the artist's first catalogue raisoneeé Kawase Hasui mokuhanga shuMainichi Shinbun, Tokyo, 1979. 

Stairway to sanctuary
1899 photo
(Source: National Diet Library -
Tokyo in Photogr
 Catalogue Raisonné
image and entry
245 Honmon temple, Ikegami
(Ikegami Honmonji)
Work of January 1931
Hasui Signature with Kawase seal
Publisher: Watanabe Shozaburo (seal C)
The Honmon temple is in Ikegami, Tokyo.

The Toledo Art Museum Show 1936

Source: Public Spectacles, Four Centuries of Japanese Prints from a Cincinnati Collection Personal Pleasures, by Alan Hockley, Cincinnati Art Museum, 2006, p. 111.
This design was one of 111 by Hasui that were shown in the second shin hanga exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art in 1936.  Ninety-one of his landscapes were exhibited in 1930.  Hasui's presence in these exhibitions (thirty-two percent of the total prints shown) attests to the popularity of his designs among Western consumers.

Located in the Ikegami district of Tokyo, the Hon mon-ji marks the site where Nichiren, the founder of the nichiren sect of Buddhism, died in 1282.  The original temple was completed in 1317 but rebuilt after it was destroyed by fire in 1710.  Hasui does not depict the temple but instead shows the approach to it over the Reizan Bridge, identified by the stone posts of the bridge railing in the lower left corner.  The design is sparsely populated, but the well-worn footpath through the newly fallen snow hints at the popularity of this famous site.

The idyllic country scenes and the historic temples of Kyoto and Nara, often depicted by shin hanga artists, can be understood as a reaction to rapid urbanization in the early twentieth century.  Temple and shrine precincts within the city of Tokyo were also illustrated with this context in mind.  Men are absent from these landscapes because their westernized dress ran contrary to the underlying sentiments of the imagery.  Women tended to retain the traditional dress of Japan and, hence, were featured in these prints.

Catalogue Entry from The Toledo Art Museum Show 1936

Source:  Dorothy Blair, "Modern Japanese Prints,” The Toledo Art Museum 1997 (Printed from a photographic reproduction of two exhibition catalogues of modern Japanese prints published by The Toledo Museum of Art in 1930 and 1936)
A gateway of the Buddhist temple called Hommon-ji, with a family of Buddhist devotees visiting the temple on a snowy day.
Signed. Hasui; red seal, decorative form only.  Left margin: the Japanese title; and the date, "Showa Roku Nen Ichi Gatsu Saki" (Made in the 1st Month of the 6th Year of Showa [January 1931].  Right margin: copyright stamp of the publisher, Watanabe of Tokyo, Blocks, 20; superimposed printings, 25; edition, 300.

Artist's Sketch

Source: Ukiyo-e Gallery website, article by Thomas Crossland and Dr. Andreas Grund, January  2003 www.ukiyoe-gallery.com/sketchbookshasui.htm

...not much change is seen in Hasui’s 1931 print, "Ikegami Honmonji Temple" ("Ikegami Honmon-Ji"), when compared to his original design sketch. The only minor changes which are readily apparent are the minor addition of a stone bridge railing at the print’s right edge, and that the distant gate has been “moved” ever so slightly forward. Apparently it was also decided that the addition of a "snow-traveled pathway" would add visual interest and greater depth to the final print.

Honmonji Temple

Source: unknown

At the foot of the long flight of steps leading to the main sanctuary, there is an old gate called Somon or main gate. It was built in the Edo Period. It has very simple style, but it is said that the gate is very architecturally important. As you climb to the sanctuary, you go under a huge gate called Sangedatsumon. On the sides of the gate, two wooden Nioh statues are standing and guarding the temple. The original structure of the gate built by the 2nd Tokugawa Shogun Hidetada was destroyed during WW2, and rebuilt recently.

A five tiered pagoda is on your right. It is the oldest five tiered pagoda in Tokyo. As with Sangedatsumon gate, it was presented by Shogun Hidetada. This pagoda is designated as an Important Cultural Property.

A festival commemorating Saint Nichiren called O-eshiki is held every 11th - 13th October.

History of Himonji

Source: http://www.honmonji.or.jp/english/english.html

Nichiren Shōnin founded Honmonji Temple (its official designation [Sangō], is Chōei-san or “ever-flourishing mountain”) just before his death in October of 1282 at the request of Ikegami Munenaka, a wealthy feudal lord and faithful follower. Ikenami Munenaka offered 69,384 tsubo of land (51.89 acres) which corresponds to the number of Chinese characters in the Lotus Sutra. On March 15 1945, the temple was subjected to heavy bombing, resulting in the destruction of all the structures except the main gate, the five-story pagoda, the Kyōzō (repository of Buddhist scriptures) and the Hōtō (a stupa). The Temple was completely reconstructed through contributions of followers throughout the country.

Going up the front steps and walking through the Nio-mon (a gate with two guardian gods), the visitor comes to the Soshido hall where the statue of Nichiren is enshrined. This statue, the only embodiment of Nichiren in the temple, was made by his disciples on the seventh anniversary of his death. It is designated an important cultural property of Japan. Behind this hall we find the Honden hall where Shakyamuni-Buddha and four bodhisattvas are enshrined; ceremonial services are performed here.

Behind the Honden is the octagonal Gobyo-sho (mausoleum) where the ashes of Nichiren are enshrined; it was built on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of his death. It is constructed entirely of hinoki Japanese cypress. The five-story pagoda was built in 1608. It stands 29.4 meters high with a 45 centimeter square beam running from the top to the second story in order to balance the structure. It is constructed to withstand a magnitude seven earthquake. The oldest five-story pagoda in Tokyo, it has been designated an important cultural property of Japan. The Kyozo, built in 1784, houses all the Buddhist scriptures in revolving hexagonal bookshelves. The Hoto was built on the site where Nichiren was cremated. Rebuilt in 1830, it is the only structure of its kind in Japan.

Along with Kuonji Temple at Minobu, the headquarters of the Nichiren sect, Honmonji Temple rank as one of the major centers among the sect's 5,000 temples.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #2
 Title  Honmon Temple, Ikegami
 Catalogue Raisonné  Number 245 (as listed in the Kawase Hasui; The Complete Woodblock Prints)
 Kawase Hasui (1883-1957)
 Seal  Kawase
 Publication Date  1931
 Edition  A posthumous (atozuri) edition made from the original blocks, bearing the 7mm circular "I"-type seal printed in black in the lower left of image. (For a full discussion of Watanabe publisher seals see "Watanabe Publisher Marks, Seals and Editions")
 Publisher  Watanabe Shōzaburō
 Watanabe "I"-type seal (in use from approximately 1957-present) reading (in  Katakana): 
ワタナベ Watanabe Shōzaburō
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  excellent
 Genre  shin hanga (new prints)
 Format  Oban tate-e
 H x W Paper  15 1/2 x 10 1/4 in. (39.4 x 26 cm)
 H x W Image  14 1/4 x 9 1/2 in. (36.2 x 24.1 cm)
 Collections This Print   Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art M73.37.103 (unidentified circular seal in lower left margin); The National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo P00138-073 (unidentified circular seal in lower left corner); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 49.400 (type E seal); Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art MWJ51:K11 (type E seal)
 Reference Literature Kawase Hasui:The Complete Woodblock Prints, (Catalogue Raisonné),Kendall Brown, Amy Reigle Newland, Hotei Publishing, KIT Publishers, 2003, p. 413, pl. 245; Visions of Japan: Kawase Hasui's Masterpieces, Kendall H. Brown, Hotei Publishing, 2004, p.78 pl. 42; Source: Public Spectacles, Four Centuries of Japanese Prints from a Cincinnati Collection Personal Pleasures, by Alan Hockley, Cincinnati Art Museum, 2006, p. 111, fig. 79.