Tokuriki Tomikichirô (1902-2000 徳力富吉郞) was born in Kyoto. He graduated from the Kyoto City School of Fine Arts and Crafts and the Kyoto City Specialist School of Painting in 1924. He also studied nihonga (Japanese-style painting: 日本画) at the private school of Tsuchida Bakusen (1887-1936) and with Yamamoto Shunkyo (1871-1933). From 1929 Tokuriki focused on mokuhanga (block prints: 木版画), and he also actively promoted sôsaku hanga ("creative prints": 創作版画) in Kyoto. He published many sets and series before World War II, and afterwards established the Matsukyû (末詳) Publishing Company to produce and distribute his prints and through its subdivision, Kôrokusha (紅録社), to publish self-carved and self-printed hanga as well as works by other artists such as Kotozuka Eiichi (1906-1979), Takahashi Tasaburô (1904-1977), and Kamei Tôbei (1901-1977). For much of his long life Tokuriki taught many artisans and artists, some of them non-Japanese, and he traveled extensively, thus his influence was significant in the world of hanga. He is perhaps best known to Westerners through his many print designs in the shin hanga ("new prints": 新版画) manner for various series published by the three main Kyoto firms — Uchida, Unsôdô, and Kyoto Hanga-in. His self-carved, self-printed sôsaku hanga, such as the example we are offering here, are highly valued by collectors and curators. The artist recognized this dichotomy, saying, "I'd rather do nothing but creative prints, but after all, I sell maybe ten of them against two hundred for a publisher-artisan print."
For more about this artist, see Tokuriki Tomikichirô Biography.
Kurama-dera (鞍馬寺) is a temple dedicated to esoteric worship in the far north of Kyoto at the base of Kuramayama (Mt. Kurama: 鞍馬山). From the twelfth century until 1949, when it founded its own religious body, it was part of the Tendai sect and subordinate to Shôren-in (青蓮院), one of the five Monzeki (門跡) temples of the Tendai sect (天台宗,) in Kyoto. It is said to have been founded by a disciple of Jianzhen (鑒真 688–763; "Ganjin" in Japanese), a Chinese monk who helped to propagate Buddhism in Japan and who founded the Tôshôdai-ji (唐招提寺 a temple of the Risshû sect, 律宗) in Nara in 753. The Kurama-dera burned down repeatedly throughout the medieval era, but the Buddhist statues and an assortment of other treasures were, miraculously, rescued every time and are today either National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties. These include wooden statues of a Heian-period Bishamonten (毘沙門天 Sanson) with Kisshôten (吉祥天 also Kichijôten), and Zennishi-doji (善膩師童子), as well as various other wooden statues such as a Kamakura-period Kannon (観音 Shigebun) and another of Bishamonten (Tenritsu).
The temple was associated with three different Buddhist sects over the centuries, but in the modern postwar era, the abbot Kouun Shigaraki founded his own religion and split the temple away from Buddhism in 1949. The temple adopted the preferences of certain patrons and other unaffiliated, esoteric adherents of mountain worship. Indeed, the temple's early history involved yamabushi ("mountain sleepers," itinerant ascetics or mountain priests: 山伏). Moreover, even today among the local population, it is still believed that tengu ("heavenly dogs" or goblins: 天狗) and other mountain spirits live in the area. Kurama-dera is very popular among Japanese tourists. If one walks from the town below, it takes between 30 and 45 minutes to reach the temple, although there is a cable-car line that covers about half the distance. Yuki-jinja (由岐神社, a Shinto shrine founded in the year 940, remains within the precincts of the temple. It is known for its fire festival (Kurama hi matsuri: 鞍馬火祭), held annually on the twenty-second of October.
Tokuriki depicted the great crimson gate at the entrance to Kuruma-dera from a vantage point much like the one a visitor would have when first approaching the temple grounds. Eyes uplifted, one senses a certain solemnity and access to the spiritual world beyond the looming gate. The yellow leaves of the tree on the left and the maple-leaf form used for the title cartouche suggest the season is autumn. A dark, small figure can be seen walking through the gate. This is an Oharame (woman from Ôhara: 大原女). She was one of the country-women from the villages of Ôhara and Yase north of Kyoto who would bring into the markets and streets of Kyoto bundles of firewood or charcoal carried on their heads or on the backs on oxen.
This print was part of or related to Tokuriki's extended series Kyoto meisho (Famous views of Kyoto: 京都名所), but the design is not in the related reference book "100 Views of Kyoto). Thus, it is a little-known image by him and fairly rare.
Note: Tokuriki's self-published prints issued before the Pacific War are, today, rather difficult to find. We are quite pleased to be able to offer this design, plus another catalogued as TKR07.
Prints by Tokuriki are in the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Nagoya; Art Gallery of Greater Victoria; Brooklyn Museum, NY; Carnegie Museum of Art;Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Five College Museums/Historic Deerfield Collections; Harvard Art Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago; University of Alberta Art Collection; Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro; and Yale University Art Gallery.
- Fujikake, Shizuya: Japanese Woodblock Prints. Tokyo: Tourist Library 10, Japan Travel Bureau, enlarged and rev. ed., 1949.
- Merritt, Helen: Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: The Early Years. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1990, pp. 88-92.
- Smith, Lawrence: Modern Japanese Prints 1912-1989: Woodblocks and Stencils. London: British Museum Press, 1994, p. 36 and no. 50.
- Statler, Oliver: Modern Japanese Prints: An Art Reborn. Rutland: Tuttle, 1956, pp. 118-122, 126, 199; nos. 72-73.
- Tokuriki, Tomikichirô: Woodblock Printing. (trans. Arimatsu Teruko) Osaka: Hoikusha Publishing Company, 1968
- Zehnder, Amanda (intro.): Modern Japanese Prints: The Twentieth Century. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Museum of Art, 2009, pp. 174-177.