This outstandingly beautiful print hails from Kawase Hasui's series "Twenty Views of Tokyo". According to art historian Narazaki "This is a masterpiece within Hasui's oeuvre and no other by him received as much praise".
Against the backdrop Of Zōjō-ji temple, a solitary woman struggles headlong against the wind and snow. It's not clear where she is going or why, but it seems that she is determined to brave the cold and walks decisively, shielding herself behind a strained umbrella.
Hasui was himself a solitary wanderer, who spent vast swathes of his working life travelling alone across Japan, in search of beautiful scenes and moments that he could capture for his next series of prints.
The solo traveller, the lonely wanderer or simply the isolated individual is a recurring subject in Hasui’s prints.
The Road to Nikko (1930) - Purchase here
He frequently featured religious sites and buildings, perhaps because they symbolise the timeless and sacred beauty of old Japan. If there is one clear motive behind Hasui’s work, it is to capture and preserve the timeless beauty of traditional Japan.
Pacific Ocean, Boshu (1925) - Purchase here
His prints are known for their decorative and aesthetic value. Most of his works are studies in pure beauty, requiring no justification through other deeper meanings or convoluted artistic themes. Hasui Incorporated visual symmetries into his prints to enhance the harmony of the image and create the most beautiful scene possible.
We see the use of this technique here, with the shape and inclination of the woman struggling against the wind mirrored in the shape of the tree in the foreground. Like the woman with the umbrella, the tree appears to bend backward and shelter under an umbrella of leaves, bowed down by the weight of the snow.
Zōjō-ji is a Buddhist temple in Tokyo, Japan - the main temple of the "Pure Land" Chinzei sect of Buddhism in the Kantō region.
It is also the final resting place for six of the Tokugawa shoguns, the ruling clan that reigned during the Edo period, who were buried in the mausoleum of the temple grounds. After the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate, the surroundings took on the role of a public park.
The main gate, visible in the background of this print, is the only part of the original temple complex that remains today, as fire, natural disasters and WWII raids claimed ever more of the principal buildings. Established in 1622, it's now the oldest wooden building in Tokyo.
Located in the Shiba neighborhood of Minato, it is surrounded by the Shiba Park and near the Tokyo Tower.