Artist: Ando Utagawa Hiroshige (1787-1858)
Woodblock Print Title: Spiral Hall, Five Hundred Rakan Temple (Gohyaku Rakan Sazaidô), from the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (Meisho Edo hyakkei)
1st Publication: August 1857
Size: Vertical oban; 33.5 x 22 cm (13 3/16 x 8 2/3 in.)
Date of this edition: August 1857, 1st edition
Publisher: Uoya Eikichi
Condition: Trimmed to the margin affecting the seals, a couple of restored pin holes in the sky area.
Notes: Deluxe edition with Mica in the roof top area. Usually, this technique was reserved for good customer or prestigious people, as the technology was fairly new, expensive and difficult to master. Very rare first edition of this print, with 3 colors in the title cartouche.
More about this print: The balcony depicted here, some thirty feet above the ground in a flat expanse of the delta area of eastern Edo, was famous for its panoramic view. The vista was the finishing touch to an unusual journey that visitors took through the building: a three-story passage through three separate pilgrimage circuits, each a replication of a famous Buddhist pilgrimage in Japan.
Called Sansōdō, or Three-Circuit Hall, the structure was popularly known as Sazaedō or Spiral Hall, after a shellfish with a spiral shell. The hall was part of the complex known as the Five Hundred Rakan Temple. Two buildings containing more than five hundred images of rakan, or disciples of the Buddha, flanked the main hall of the temple, out of sight to the right.
Pictures: Pictures are taken outdoor, in the shade, to reflect true colors, without any enhancements of any kind. The last picture is taken indoor, with a light behind the print, to reveal the exact paper grain, holes if any, or other possible flaws.