Treasure Introduction (National Treasure Wall Paintings)
The main head temple of the Chisan school of Shingon Buddhism, Chishakuin Temple, houses National Treasure wall paintings of various sizes as well as many treasures and valuable ancient documents including high priests’ writings. Among these, many Momoyama period (16th century) wall paintings, such as “Cherry Blossom” and “Maple” by the Hasegawa school, are carefully preserved in our treasury.
“Cherry Blossom”(National Treasure)
A strong cherry blossom tree is depicted on a background lavishly colored with an abundance of gold leaf. Utilizing a technique of piling on paint, the cherry blossoms’ petals are expressed boldly one by one. It is as if from inside each petal Hasegawa Tōhaku’s son Kyūzō’s overflowing passion of youth is being brought out right before your eyes. It is said that Kyūzō created this piece when he was 25 years old. Sadly, he was to pass away in the following year.
“Maple” (National Treasure)
It is said that after his son Kyūzō died just a year after completing “Cherry Blossom,” Hasegawa Tōhaku began to lose his will to create art, overwhelmed with his sadness. However, to refine his skills, for himself and for his son, Tōhaku encouraged himself and managed to revive his spirits and complete “Maple.”
With the same extravagance as “Cherry Blossom,” the many branches of an old maple tree stretch out in the sky while various flowers splay out below in a beautiful array. It is work that expresses both the power of overcoming the sorrow of a son’s death as well as the calm autumn elegance during Tōhaku’s 55th year, amid his continuing training.
In addition, we also house “Pine Tree and Autumn Plants” (National Treasure), “Pine and Sunset Hibiscus” (National Treasure), “Pine and Plum Blossom”(Important Cultural Property), and “Snowy Pine”(National Treasure), all of which are magnificent works that bring Momoyama period culture to life.