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Rakusei Saihō-ji

Itō Nisaburō (1905-2001)

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Rakusei Saihō-ji 洛西 西芳寺

(Saihō-ji in Western Temple Kyoto)

by Itō Nisaburō, undated

Arashiyama, Spring Scenery

IHL Cat. #2030

About This Print

While neither signed nor sealed, I have seen another impression of this print that carries the seal of the artist Itō Nisaburō in the lower right corner of the image. For another depiction of the grounds of this temple see Moss Garden (at Kokedera) by Kitaoka Fumio (1918-2007).

Saihō-ji Temple (Kokedera) 
Source: Kyoto City explanatory plaque at site.

Also known by its mountain-name of Koinzan, Saihoji Temple belongs to the Rinzai school of Japanese Buddhism.  In 1994 the site was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tradition holds that after being founded by the monk Gyoki in accordance with an edict from the emperor Shomu during the Nara Period [AD 710-794] and briefly occupied by Kobo Daishi during the Heian Period [1794-1185], Saihoji was revived during the Kamakura Period [1185-1333] by the priest Honen, who restored the temple and converted it into a training hall for Jodo Shinko (the Pure Land faith).  The facility was subsequently devastated by military conflict before being rebuilt in 1339 as a center of strict Zen ascetic training by the priest Muso Soseki with the staunch backing of the emperor Godaigo and the shogun Ashikaga Takauji.

The garden built by Muso Soseki (a nationally designated scenic and historic site) consists of an upper level of dry karesansui-style rock arrangements and a lower level built around Ogonchi Pond, which is shaped like the Chinese character meaning "heart."  Blanketed by more than 120 species of moss, the temple is popularly and affectionately known as Kokedera ("Moss Temple").

The Shonantei teahouse (an Important Cultural Asset) was built during the Momoyama Period [1573-1615] by Shoan, the second son of tea master Sen-no-Rikyu.  It is here that Iwakura Tomomi [Meiji government official and statesman] sought temporary shelter during the Meiji Restoration.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #2030
 TitleRakusei Saihō-ji   洛西 西芳寺
Saihō-ji in Western Temple Kyoto
 Itō Nisaburō (1905-2001)
 not signed
 not sealed
 Publication Date not dated
 Edition unknown

 Impression excellent 
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent
 Genre shin hanga (new prints)
 Format ōban tate-e
 H x W Paper 12 1/8 x 17 5/8 in. (30.1 x 44.8 cm)
 H x W Image 10 5/8 x 15 3/4 in. (27 x 40 cm)
 Collections This Print 
 Reference Literature 
last revision:
3/23/2019 created