Ryūkō-ji Nichiren, 1948

by Yamagishi Kazue

IHL Cat. #2629


A darkening sky accompanied by high winds is the setting for this view of the Dai-hondō (main hall) of Ryūkō-ji 龍口寺, a temple of the Nichiren School located in the city of Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture.

"The temple stands on the site of the former Tatsukuchi (or Tatsunokuchi) Execution Grounds, and its name uses the same two kanji meaning "dragon mouth" (龍口). It was here that Nichiren, namesake of the Buddhist sect, was to have been executed. It was founded in 1337 by Nippō, a disciple of Nichiren. The cave where Nichiren was confined is preserved on the grounds."[1] 

There are various publication dates attributed to this print, with some sources associating the print with the artist's incomplete series titled One Hundred Views of Japan (Nihon hyakkei 日本百景), prints from which were first published in 1929, and other sources simply stating the date is unknown. The Shinshu Takato Art Museum in their online inventory of prints gives a publishing date of 1948.[2] We do know that the artist spent time at the temple sometime in the late 1930s or 1940s and my guess is that the 1948 date is correct.[3] 

Confusingly, the seller's auction notes for this print attributes the publication of this print to Kyoto Hanga-in 京都版画院. However, web-based searches, including early 1950s catalogs by Kyoto Hanga-in, trying to confirm their involvement in issuing Yamagishi-designed prints came up empty. Nor are there any markings on the print suggesting that Kyoto Hanga-in was involved with its production. What is clear is that there were two different printings of this work (see images below), likely using the same blocks, with the print on the left likely preceding this collection's print on the right. 

[1] Wikipedia entry https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ry%C5%ABk%C5%8D-ji_(Fujisawa)#:~:text=Ry%C5%ABk%C5%8D%2Dji%20(%E9%BE%8D%E5%8F%A3%E5%AF%BA),dragon%20mouth%22(%E9%BE%8D%E5%8F%A3).

[2] https://www.inacity.jp/shisetsu/library_museum/takato_museum/collection_2/shuzosakuhin.files/collectionlist20222.pdf

[3] "Japanese Wood-block Prints, Shizuya Fujikake, Japan Travel Bureau, 1938, revised 1949 and 1953, p. 106.

Dai-hondō (main hall) of Ryūkō-ji 龍口寺 today

Fujisawa City Designated Important Cultural Property / Ryūkō-ji Temple

Built in 1831

Print Details

Ryūkō-ji Nichiren #2629

artist signature and seal