Yoshitora Utagawa, Mount Oyama Pilgrimage, Tattoo Design


Artist: Yoshitora Utagawa (Active in 1850-1880)
Title: Honoh Oyama Sekison Daigongen
Publisher: Sanoya Tomigoro
Date: 1862
Size: (L) 35.5 x 25.1(C)35.6 x 25.3 (R)35.6 x 25.4 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

Mt. Oyama has been a mountain for mixed beliefs of Shinto and Buddhism, with the Sekison Daigongen enshrined at the summit and Daisenji Temple with Fudomyoo for its object of worship located on the hillside. The founder of the mountain as a religious centre is said to be monk Roben who encountered a dragon one day during his meditation. The dragon told the monk that the waterfalls on Oyama had the power to purify all beings and bring enlightenment and protection to them. Oyama thus became a preferred place for pilgrimage for firemen given the mountain’s association with water and fire. They saw the pilgrimage as a ritual of purification and a communion with the spirits. The dragons and koi fish designs on their skin would feel in their element and be blessed by the power of the mountain.

Oyama attracted a large number of visitors from Edo, especially merchants, artisans and fishermen who believed in the healing powers of Fudo Myoo and the dragon deity’s ability to offer protection from fire. The pilgrims going to Oyama would carry a large wooden sword and dedicate it to the shrine.

Due to the popularity of the pilgrimage and its protective qualities, woodblock prints with heroes under a waterfall are common, more so with actors and other tattooed characters displaying the designs on their skin.

More Information
Print Format Triptych
Artist Name Yoshitora Utagawa
Title Honoh Oyama Sekison Daigongen
Subject Samurai & Male, Kabuki Theatre, Tattoo
Dimensions (L) 35.5 x 25.1(C)35.6 x 25.3 (R)35.6 x 25.4 cm
Condition Report Some creases, minor spots, backed tears.
Publisher Sanoya Tomigoro

Yoshitora Utagawa

Yoshitora was a pupil of Kuniyoshi Utagawa. He made prints of foreigners in Yokohama, in the late ukiyo-e manner. However, he never saw the foreign scenes that he depicted, instead, instead, copied them from Western engravings. Other genres include kabuki actors and warrior prints, done in a similar style to that of his master.