The Kyoto artist Ido Masao was born in Manchuria (northeast China) in 1945, but his family moved to Morioka in Iwate Prefecture, Japan in 1946 and to Kyoto in 1959. Ido apprenticed with Mitsuho Yoshida, a traditional fabric dyer, in 1961, and also studied in Kyoto with Yoshida Koho and Otsubo Shigechika (woodblock prints) in 1972. Now a long-time resident of Kyoto, he has hosted a television show on a Japanese cable network (NKK) on making woodblock prints. A highly regarded modern printmaker focused on traditional themes, Ido is the premier printmaker in the Kyoto area. Works by Ido are included in the collections of such institutions as the Museum of Modern of Art, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Florence Municipal Museum; Kyoto National Miuseum; and Tokyo National Museum.
For more information about this artist, see Ido Masao Biography.
The Shinshô Gokuraku-ji (Shinsho Gokuraku Temple: 真正極楽寺) in Kyoto, often referred to as the Shinnyo-dô (named after its main hall, 真如堂), was founded in 984 by the priest Kaisan Shonin to enshrine a statue of the Buddha of Paradise. The temple became famous as a training center where one could practice the Fudan Nenbutsu (constant prayer or invocation: 不斷念仏), a prayer to Buddha that lasts all day without any pause. This tradition evolved into a 10-day chanting prayer that is still performed every year. Like many temples in Kyoto, Shinnyo-dô was destroyed during the Ônin no Ran (Ônin War, 1467–1477: 応仁の乱), but was subsequently rebuilt. The temple's main icon had been hidden away from Kyoto during the war and was returned to the temple in 1693.
Mt. Nyoigatake is perhaps the best known site for the five bonfires lit in the Higashi mountains bordering eastern Kyoto to mark the end of Bon-matsuri (Festival of the Dead: 盆祭), held traditionally during the seventh month on the lunar calendar (today in the eighth month). During the festival, the character for dai ("large") can be seen burning on the side of the mountain, part of the Daimonji gozan okuribi ("Large character sending-off fire on five hills": 大文字五山送り火).
Ido has portrayed the Shinshô Gokuraku-ji with the bright, verdant colors of spring or summer. The character for dai can be scene groomed into the side of Nyoigatakeyama.