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Mii-dera from the Picture Album of the Thirty-Three Pilgrimage Places of the Western Provinces

Nakazawa Hiromitsu (1874-1964)

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Mii-dera (temple 14)

from the Picture Album of the Thirty-Three Pilgrimage Places of the Western Provinces

by Nakazawa Hiromitsu, 1925

Illustrated Account of the Sino-Japanese War, Volume 7


IHL Cat. #2413.22
(from the complete 1925 album of prints IHL Cat. #2413)

About This Print

Nakazawa presents us with a distant view of Mii-dera on Mount Hiei. It is dawn and there are lingering pockets of fog, Mii-dera is one of the largest temple complexes in Japan and the 14th temple along the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage. 

In December 1923, only a few months after the Great Kantō Earthquake devastated the Tokyo area, Nakazawa along with his two friends, the poet Ishikura Suiyō and the artist Akatsuka Chūichi, began their pilgrimage to the thirty-three temples comprising the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage, taking seventy-eight days to complete the route. 

The Temple


Mii-dera, formal name is Onjō-ji, the head temple of the Jimon sect of Tendai Buddhism, is one of the largest temple complexes in Japan. It is located at the foot of Mount Hiei, in the city of Ōtsu in Shiga Prefecture, near Lake Biwa.

Founded in 672, the temple complex contains over forty buildings. According to legend, Miidera was founded by the Emperor Tenmu in honor of his brother, Emperor Tenji. "The name Mii-dera ('Temple of Three Wells') came about nearly two centuries later. It was given this name by Enchin, one of the earliest abbots of the Tendai Sect. The name comes from the springs at the temple which were used for the ritual bathing of newborns, and in honor of Emperor Tenji and Emperor Tenmu, and Empress Jitō, who contributed to the founding of the temple."


The temple complex with Lake Biwa, Japan's largest lake, in the distance

The Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage (Saigoku sanjūsansho junrei) 

Japan's most famous pilgrimage, originating in the 11th century, encompasses 33 Buddhist temples in Western Japan (Kansai region) dedicated to Kannon (bodhisattva Avalokitasvara), the Bodhisattva of Compassion, who hears the cries of the world and assists anyone in distress.

The 33 temples on the approximately 1,000 kilometer pilgrimage route correspond to Kannon's ability to take on 33 different forms. One hundred thousand pilgrims navigate the route in its entirety or part each year.

Note: For a listing of all 33 temples go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saigoku_Kannon_Pilgrimage. To access an interactive map of the route and its temples go to https://www.thetempleguy.org/p/saigoku-33-kannon-route.html and scroll down towards the bottom of the page.

About the "Picture Album of the Thirty-Three Pilgrimage Places of the Western Provinces" 

First issued in 1925 and reprinted in 1946, the 1925 album contains 58 prints and the 1946 album 59 prints. For detailed discussion of the two editions and additional information on the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage see this site's article Nakazawa Hiromitsu - Picture Album of the Thirty-Three Pilgrimage Places of the Western Provinces.
Nakazawa Hiromitsu - Picture Album of the Thirty-Three Pilgrimage Places of the Western Provinces
click on the image to go to the article

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 #2413.22
 Title or Description Mii-dera (temple 14) 
 三井寺 (
 Series Picture Album of the Thirty-Three Pilgrimage Places of the Western Provinces
 西国三十三所巡礼画巻 Saigoku sanjūsansho junrei gakan
 Artist Nakazawa Hiromitsu (1874-1964)
 Signature
中澤弘光 [Nakazawa Hiromitsu] printed in lower right margin as shown left
 Seal of the artist
弘 Hiro
 Publication Date Published September 28, 1925 大正十四年九月十八日発行 as printed in the 1925 album's colophon (see Album Box with Print of Kannon IHL Cat. #2413).
Note: an earlier date of June 15, 1925 大正十四年六月十五日 appears in the right margin of the print titled Matsunoo-dera [IHL Cat. #2245], the only print in the 1925 album which carries a date. This earlier date, however, is the date that the censor's approval was obtained, as further explained on this site's web page for Matsunoo-dera, rather than the publishing date.
 Publisher
文淵堂版 [Bun'endō han] printed in lower right margin as shown left

 發行者 金尾種次郎 publisher Kanao Tanejirō
 發兌元 金尾文淵堂 publishing house Kanao Bun'endō
 Carver Okada Seijirō 岡田清次郎
Note: the album's colophon (see Album Box with Print of Kannon IHL Cat. 2413) lists two carvers, the above well-known Okada Seijirō and 大倉藤太郎, possibly read Okura Tōtarō, who I can find no information on. 
 Printer Nishimura Kumakichi 西村熊吉
Note: the album's colophon (see Album Box with Print of Kannon IHL Cat. 2413) lists three printers, the above well-known Nishmura Kumakichi; 山県秀助, possibly read Yamagata Hidesuki, who I can find no information on, and 松本兄弟堂, a company founded in Osaka by Matsumoto Kisaburō 松本喜三郎 in 1923, which I believe did the letterpress printing. 
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent - minor marks and soiling
 Genre shin hanga; shasei kikō (sketch-tour)
 Miscellaneous
temple/print number 14 appearing in the right margin of the 1925 release
 Format horizontal oban
 H x W Paper 
 10 1/8 x 15 1/4 in. (25.7 x 38.7 cm)  
 H x W Image
 8 1/2 x 11 9/16 in. (21.6 x 29.4 cm)
 Literature  Nakazawa Hiromitsu kenkyū: Hon karano kenshō, Hiromitsu Nakazawa, Mitsunobu Satō, et. al., Mitsui Kōkei, Tokyo, 2006, p. 46-48.
 Collections This Print
 National Diet Library Call Number 寄別7-8-2-5 (1925 album, no images displayed); National Library Board, Singapore BRN:9854371 (entire 1946 album, no images shown); British Library System number: 017018582 (entire 1946 album, no images shown)Harvard Yenching Library HOLLIS number 990082993710203941 (1925 album, no images displayed)

last revision:
1/19/2021 created
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