Hokusai Katsushika, Landscape, Sazai Hall of the Five Hundred Rakan Temple, Mount Fuji


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Artist: Hokusai Katsushika (1760 – 1849)
Title: 23. The Sazai Hall of the Five Hundred Rakan Temple
Series: Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji
Publisher: Nishimura Yohachi
Published: circa 1831-1835
Dimensions: 25.2 x 38 cm

This print shows a number of pilgrims gazing at Mt. Fuji from the deck of the Sazaidou temple, which is dedicated to the five hundred rakan, the legendary disciples of the Buddha.

Characters within the print are mostly depicted from the back, which invites the viewer into the scene itself. We join the lively atmosphere of arrival and departure on a sunny day in Edo-era Japan.

Hokusai’s affinity for geometric composition can be spotted in this image. The iconic triangle that is Mt. Fuji, becomes the tip of a larger triangle that is anchored in the line of figures on the balcony. The young man on the far left who is pointing at the mountain, constitutes the left corner of the triangle. The figure on the right who is also raising his arm is his counterpart. Both of them create a line to draw our eye back to the focal point of this composition, Mt. Fuji.

The juxtaposition of the flowing lines that compose the figures in this print and the precise geometric detail found in the depiction of the temple make this image very dynamic and expressive.

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