30 scroll paintings by Ito Jakuchu (1716-1800) are currently on display at Shokokuji Temple, in Kyoto. This is the first time in 120 years that they have been shown together. The best known of them are "The Colorful Realm of Living Beings" and the "Sakyamuni Triad."
It took Jakuchu 10 years to complete "Realm," which he donated to Shokokuji in the hopes of eternal salvation for himself and his family.
In 1889, the 30 scrolls of "The Colorful Realm of Living Beings" were given to the Imperial Family. They are normally housed in the Sannomaru Shozokan Museum on the grounds of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. The "Triad" series is kept at Shokokuji.
The Shokokuji exhibition was organized to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the death of the temple's founder, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu.
On the day we went, guards with bullhorns at the main gate guided taxis to a turnaround, stopped local traffic, and warned of "delays." As we walked in, more bullhorns awaited.
A tent was set up to sell tickets in front of the museum. Young men in suits herded visitors into a line and announced through bullhorns that there was a 40 minute wait to enter the gallery. (Friends who went on Sunday waited three hours.)
The wait and the crowd however were well worth it. Jakuchu's bold and brilliant works nearly jump from the scrolls. Absolutely stunning.
The Jakuchu exhibit continues until June 3 at Shokokuji Jotenkaku Museum, which is open from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. For more information: (075) 231-0301.Access
Take the Karasuma Subway from Kyoto Station to Imadegawa Station. From there it is a 3-minute walk.
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