Koitsu Tsuchiya, Zojo-ji Temple in Snow


Artist: Koitsu Tsuchiya (1870-1949)
Title: Zojo-ji Temple in Snow
Series title: Tokyo Views
Publisher: no seal
Date: 1960-1990s (originally printed in 1933)
later edition
Size: 39.5 x 26.8 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

Zojo-ji Temple was founded in 1393 and moved to its present site in 1598 by Tokugawa Ieyasu. It became the family temple of the Tokugawa family and an administrative centre governing religious studies and activities. It remans one of Japan’s most important Buddhist temples today.

With its intense realism, Koitsu immortalises in this print one of the country’s scenic beauties. With subtle light effects and shadows, he manages to render the nostalgic and captivating aura of a winter landscape. Wonderfully executed bokashi (colour gradation) is present throughout the print. The vermillion exterior of the temple contrasts with the winter setting. Snow flakes gently fall from the sky, creating a dream-like, serene atmosphere. Shin-hanga artists typically sought out places that offered such pleasing scenes capable of moving viewers aesthetically, and perhaps emotionally or spiritually.

Koitsu Tsuchiya

Born in 1870 in Shizuoka prefecture, Koitsu moved to Tokyo at the age of fifteen. He later became Kiyochika's apprentice and moved into his home to study art and print design. It is through Kiyochika that Koitsu gained his trademark skill in the subtle use of light and shadow for his landscape prints. Koitsu lived with Kiyochika for 19 years and was considered more a member of Kiyochika's family than an apprentice. Although Koitsu first designed woodblock prints during the Sino-Japanese war (1894-1895), and later worked as a lithographer (around 1898 to 1905), he only became an internationally-renown artist after his chance-meeting with Watanabe Shozaburo, the founder of the Shin-hanga print movement, at an exhibition of Kiyochika's works in 1931 that marked the anniversary of Kiyochika's death. In 1932 he started to produce landscape prints in the shin-hanga style for Watanabe, the first being titled 'Cherry Blossom Viewing at Gion', and he went on to design a total of ten prints for Watanabe. He later designed prints for various publishers including Doi Sadaichi (known incorrectly in the West as Doi Teiichi), Kawaguchi, the Kyoto publisher Baba Nobuhiko, the publisher Tanaka Shobido, and the publisher Takemura.

More Information
Print FormatOban (Vertical)
ArtistKoitsu Tsuchiya
SubjectLandscapes, Modern/Shin-Hanga
Dimensions39.5 x 26.8 cm
Condition ReportGood colour and impression.