Katsushika Hokusai
Sazaedō Hall of the Temple of the Five Hundred Arhats

Signed: Zen Hokusai I’itsu hitsu; Publisher’s seal: Eijudō and logo on furoshiki (Nishimuraya Yohachi); censor’s seal: kiwame; ōban, yoko-e, 25.0 x 37.5 cm; nishiki-e with ichimonji-bokashi

From “36 Views of Mount Fuji”. A young man on the far left of the temple terrace is carrying a bundle bearing the logo of the publishing house Eijudō (tomoe-mon under a roof) and pointing to the distant summit. On the right other pilgrims are resting. This print is a brilliant early edition in which the grain of the wood can be clearly recognized under the surface of the water. Sazae is a kind of sea snail; thus Sazaedō is a temple hall with a snail-shaped stairway. The temple was located on the western outskirts of Edo.

Gonse, Paris; A. Lemp, Zurich (1961)
Riese Collection #122

A print like this, which is usually considered to be among the dullest of the series, cannot be properly appreciated until it is seen in a brilliant, early impression as here. As two exhausted pilgrims lay down their packs at the right, a group of Edo townspeople lean over the balcony and look at the lake below for some relief from the summer heat. Fuji rises over the hills behind them. The lake is printed in grey, shaded more darkly at the bottom, with a fine delicate pattern of woodgrain similar to that used on Hakurakuten in the Imagery of the Poets series. A bright, emerald green colours the hills in the distance, the boy’s pack on the left, parts of the building at the right, and the hanging bell. The blue sky is printed with slight variations so that it looks lighter and darker here and there. The bell seems to stand out against one of these slightly darker areas. In contrast to the flat expanse of colour on the temple and the sky, and to the rippling pattern of woodgrain on the grey water, the people are drawn with crisp outlines, with clear blue and white patterns on their robes. The baby’s sash is the same emerald green, as are the men’s tobacco pouches and bits of the women’s sashes. The pilgrims wear a darker green on the garments which appears in only one place elsewhere on the print, as overprinting on the tree tops at the extreme left.

Sazai is a snail, and the Sazaidō of a temple was a building with circular, snail-like staircase inside. The 500 Arhat Temple was located in a distant suburb of Edo. The 500 Arhats were disciples of the Buddha.

Reproduced in: Ingelheim catalogue, no. 105.