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Thunder God (Raijin) from the portfolio Woodblock Prints by Kihei Sasajima

The actors Bandō Hikosaburō V as Ukiyo Tohai, Ichimura Kakitsu IV as Nozarashi Gosuke and Ichikawa Danzō VI as Rokuji Namuemon

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Thunder God (Raijin) 雷神

from the portfolio Woodblock Prints by Kihei Sasajima

by Sasajima Kihei, 1964 (originally 1963)

Sasajima Kihei (1906-1993)

IHL Cat. #1808

About This Print

One of five prints in this collection from the portfolio of prints titled "Woodblock Prints by Kihei Sasajima" issued in an edition of 300 copies by the Tokyo publisher Bijutsu Shuppan-sha in 1964.  

Picturing the Shinto god of thunder Raijin who holds a circle of hand drums over his shoulder to produce thunder. Most often pictured as a pair, Fūjin, the wind god, and Raijin, the thunder deity, are portrayed as oni (demons), though in Buddhism both are attendants of Kanno, the Goddess of Mercy, and neither are inherently good or evil, capable of displaying both characteristics. 

The printer, Yoneda Minoru, has employed Sasajima's takuzuri technique of forcing paper into a deep-cut block with a press and dabbing the raised areas with an ink saturated pad giving the print a sculpted three-dimensional appearance.

"Woodblock Prints by Kihei Sasajima" - A Portfolio of Twenty Reduced-Size Prints

A portfolio of twenty prints designed by Sasajima Kiehi and published by Bijutsu Shuppan-sha.  The prints in the portfolio are woodblock reproductions, almost all of them reproduced in a smaller size than the original prints created by the artist.  The woodblocks for the reduced-size prints (縮写復刻 shukusha fukkoku) were carved by Iokibe Kin’ichi (1913-1978)1 and printed by Yoneda Minoru2.  The table of contents for the series, shown below, provides the titles of the twenty prints, their original size and original date of publication.  Each print was tipped into a windowed mat which carried the number of the print as shown in the table of contents.  The portfolio included a commentary by Michiaki Kawakita, author and art historian.

  Portfolio's Colophon
click on image to enlarge
Portfolio's Table of Contents
click on image to enlarge

Comparison of Original Print with Portfolio Print
This print is the 16th print in the portfolio.  As originally created by Sasajima its dimensions were approximately 23 5/8 x 17 3/4 in. (60 x 45 cm).  The portfolio reduced-size reproduction measures approximately 13 3/4 x 10 5/8 in. (34.9 x 27 cm).

IHL Cat. #1808, portfolio print as issued tipped into windowed mat

1 Iokibe Kin’ichi 五百旗頭欣一 (1913-1978) was a poet, artist and carver.
2 Yoneda Minoru (?-?) also carved the blocks for many of the re-prints of the work of Onchi Kōshirō (1891-1955).

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1808
 Title Thunder God (Raijin) 雷神
 Portfolio Woodblock Prints by Kihei Sasajima
 笹島喜平版画作品集 Sasajima Kihei hanga sakushinshū
 Sasajima Kihei (1906-1993)
 not signed
 Seal of the Artist
笹 (artist's "sasa" seal)
 Publication Date
 October 1, 1964 (originally 1963)
 Bijutsu Shuppan-sha Corporation 株式会社美術出版社 (Ōshita Masao 大下正男)
 Carver Iokibe Kin’ichi 五百旗頭欣一 
 Printer Yoneda Minoru 米田稔 
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent
 Genre sosaku hanga; 縮写復刻 shukusha fukkoku (reduced-size reissue)
 H x W Paper 13 3/4 x 10 5/8 in. (34.9 x 27 cm)
 H x W Image 11 3/4 x 8 7/8 in. (29.8 x 22.5 cm)
 Collections This Print National Diet Library JP番号64012710 and NDL Call Number 733-Sa735s

 Reference Literature