Totoya Hokkei, 'Pilgrims on Mount Tateyama

Totoya Hokkei, 'Pilgrims on Mount Tateyama

Totoya Hokkei (1780-1850)
'Pilgrims on Mount Tateyama, Etchû Province'
From the series 'Famous Views of the Provinces'
Early 1830s
Nishiki-e (brocade print), fûkei-ga (landscape print)
Ô-tanzaku size
Signature: Aoigaoka Hokkei ga
Publishers: Nishimuraya Yohachi and Nakamuraya Katsugorô
Censorship seal: Kiwame
Museum no. E.574-1899

Few examples of nishiki-e (brocade print) by Hokkei are known, and this series is regarded as representative of his work. Mount Tateyama is one of Japan's three sacred mountains together with Mount Fuji and Mount Hakusan. It was a popular place of pilgrimage.

At the beginning of the Edo period worship of Mount Tateyama increased greatly, with Ashikura Temple, which contained over thirty shrines and pilgrims' lodgings, being the centre of the cult. In one month as many as three thousand pilgrims would go there to worship.

Spirits of the dead from all over Japan were believed to gather in the nearby valley, from which clouds of smoke can be seen rising in this depiction. The figures are proceeding towards the valley to meet again with departed souls and to pray for their attainment of Nirvana in memorial services. The use of dark blue conveys the feeling of a sacred site deep within the mountains.

This print can be found in Prints and Drawings Study Room box TOPIC JP1