Kinkakuji (version SP2-a with mica)

Kinkakuji (version SP-2b with greeting)

Temporary Numbers

SP2 (SP2-a and SP2-b)

Currently Documented Version Signature and Seal Markings:
version a: 楽山 Raku-zan + Seal Q + Rakusan. [cursive romaji signature] [here all markings applied by hand]
version b: 楽山畫 Raku-zan Ga + Seal N + Rakusan Tsuchiya. [cursive romaji signature] [here all markings woodblock-printed except romaji signature]

[In the version b signature 畫 would today be written 画]

[For illustration of seals, see the Seals article.]

Additional Version Printing Differences:
version paper color background block (1) key block (2) detail block (3)
a white blue bokashi pale gray dark gray
b pink blue bokashi orange white

Design History:
The SP2 woodblock print is known in two versions, SP2-a and SP2-b. Both are printed using the same blocks which were modeled after an original painting of the same size, SP2-0 (see link below). Because SP2 has been documented with so few examples, the temporal relationship between the basic versions is uncertain. If the versions represent sequential editions, then it is likely that SP2-a is the earlier of the two. However, the versions may represent contemporaneous color morphs. It is also possible that the design was printed in more color versions than are currently documented. The exact dating of SP2 is also uncertain. The prototype painting SP2-0 and the wooden blocks were definitely created before World War II. However, dedication copies of either color morph of the SP2 woodblock print are not known until after the war circa 1947-1948, but pre-war printing of copies of those versions cannot be ruled out.

Although the SP2 woodblock print design came to be used as a souvenir print, that use may have been an afterthought. SP2 may have been initially conceived as the first in a planned larger woodblock print series of simplified landscapes. Unfortunately, the SP2-0 painting (and its woodblock prints) represent a unique effort, and the potential series never resulted. SP2-0 is actually the third version of a nearly identical view; each version smaller and simpler than the one before. As in the earlier LK1-10 and LK2-9, in SP2-0 the Kinkakuji reflected in its mirror pond is viewed looking northwest from from the garden entrance toward the southwest corner of the building.

The SP2-0 painting was executed in black sumi ink on pale silk. In adapting the woodblock print Rakusan added colors and detail separations not present in the painting. Each woodblock-printed version requires only three impressions to print the basic design (exclusive of signature and seal markings). Each version begins with a blue bokashi background fading out up from the bottom. Thereafter the treatments are different in each version (see table above). Note that all copies of SP2-b are printed on salmon-pink colored paper, and it is the only Rakusan artwork to use other than a white (or cream-colored) paper or fabric.

Neither copy illustrated above is of the basic form of the print version.

The example copy of SP2-a illustrated above has been signature and seal marked only by hand, and it is further embellished with mica glitter. A narrow-diameter, long roller was dipped into a clear glue-binder and rolled across the finished print from side to side. Gold-colored mica was then scattered liberally over the print while the glue-binder was still slightly damp. Because the glue-binder was thicker on one side of the roller, it came to be applied to the paper more liberally in a repeated pattern of vertical bands. Where the mica preferentially adhered to these areas can be seen as the vertical clumps of brownish dots in this illustration. (The brown color is a photographic artifact, and the mica glitters bright gold in normal lighting conditions.) In its margins which have been digitally cropped in this illustration, this particular copy has a personal dedication which, although not overtly dated, is consistent with similar dedications dated in 1947 and 1948.

The example copy of SP2-b illustrated above has the same woodblock-printed greeting as the interior of the later card stock for the winter cards (see link below). Similarly emended copies were apparently specially printed to be distributed like the winter cards as holiday greetings. This usage can be dated to after World War II in the late 1940s or early 1950s because of that late greeting. Several otherwise identical copies without the greeting have also been documented, but no images are currently available. The form without the greeting (not illustrated) is considered the earlier and more basic form of SP2-b.

Location Illustrated:
The Golden Pavilion, 金閣, kinkaku, is one of the most famous buildings in Japan. It is part of a Zen Buddhist temple complex in northwestern Kyoto which is properly called Rokuonji, 鹿苑寺, rokuon-ji, 'deer garden temple'. However, the building and complex are most commonly referred to as the Kinkakuji (or Kinkaku-ji), 金閣寺, kinkaku-ji, 'gold(en) pavilion temple'. The pavilion extends over a reflecting pond, 鏡湖池, kyouko-chi, 'mirror pond', which includes ten small islands - some planted with small trees.

Rakusan was very fond of the Kinkakuji and no less than twelve different depictions of it have survived among his artworks. He often described the location of his home and studio as being nearby the Kinkakuji since both were in the same section of the city. His intent was to encourage visitors to that famous tourist attraction to make a stop at his studio on the same trip. The Kinkakuji in SP2-0 is the original structure built in 1397 which was destroyed by an arson fire in 1950. The current replica structure replaced it in 1955.

Related Designs:
Original painting for this design:

Other designs of the Kinkakuji: [The paintings sections are currently under construction. Subpages for items marked with [*] not yet available.]
*LK1-10 (painting) *LK2-9 (painting) *LCK-1 (painting) *LCK-2 (painting) *LCK-3 (painting)
*LK3-1 (painting) *LK3-2 (painting) WC1935 (woodblock print) *Map1 (painting)

Other examples of holiday greeting:
late winter card interior