Japan art and Hiroshige: Buddhism, snow, and landscapes

Japan art and Hiroshige: Buddhism, snow, and landscapes

Lee Jay Walker 

Modern Tokyo Time

Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) created countless numbers of stunning landscapes. Throughout his life, he focused on different art themes and is internationally famous for his ukiyo-e.

The first art piece is the Kinryûzan Buddhist Temple in the district of Asakusa. Snow is still falling – and some people are braving the wintery conditions. Accordingly, a delightful atmospheric print fusing Buddhism, nature, the harsh wintery conditions, and everyday life.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art says, “Kinryūsan Sensōji, the famous temple at Asakusa dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon (Avalokiteshvara in Sanskrit), was the most popular venerable Buddhist temple in Edo.” 

In the following art piece, three people are struggling in the harsh wintery conditions in Kanbara. This is located in the prefecture of Shizuoka. Once more, you can feel the harsh wintery conditions with people fighting against the odds. Also, you can visibly imagine small mountain villages that dot the landscape.

However, while the art piece is stunning, it is a mirage by Hiroshige – even if the landscape and village are real. In reality, this area rarely gets deep snow. After all, Kanbara is located in a temperate area. Therefore, Kanbara is cushioned by the Kuroshio Current (a warm ocean current) that transports warm equatorial water – so a milder climate (in general).

The final print is the Zôjô-ji Temple in Shiba (Shiba Zôjô-ji setchû). Once more, the snow-filled landscape and people visiting the Buddhist temple – or passing through if local – is a stunning print by Hiroshige.

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