Kawase Hasui

The Golden Pavillion in Snow (1922)

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About the Art

On a cold winter’s night, the snow blows thickly over the temple pavilion and settles on the roofs as the icy water laps in the wind.

This print is from Hasui’s series ‘Selected Views of Japan’ and is in the ‘aizuri-e’ style, which is where only shades of blue are used.

The pavilion’s structure, however, is covered in solid gold leaf and usually pictured shimmering across the water. The gold is symbolic as it was believed to purify any negative thoughts or feelings within the temple. But as Hasui was the leading light of the ‘shin-hanga’ movement, otherwise known as “new prints”, he preferred realistic portrayals of more obscure landscapes.

Blue was usually used to express depth and distance and was widely used in landscape prints. Hasui was the master of shadow and perspective, using small intricate details to create scenes of tranquil moments. This is an idyllic portrayal of Kyoto’s seasons, in the thick flurries of winter snow.