First Snow

In honor of the snowy season, here are some woodblock prints by Hiroshige, who traveled through Edo Japan throughout all seasons, and captured detailed scenes from the most distinct places of the time. The way he deals with snow reveals the mastery of his craft, because he is able to accurately depict the way snow covers mountains and buildings by the perfect understanding of negative space necessary for printing. The intricacy of each work is supported by a delicate and innovative sense of composition.

Kinryuzan Temple Asakusa is particularly interesting because the composition and color scheme are more striking than his other prints in the collection One Hundred Famous Views of Edo. For the most part, his landscapes have a rich sense of perspective, with a large object in the foreground and multiple layers that recede into the background. Here, the bold design of the lantern and vertical strip of gate offset the delicate lines of snow-covered trees and tiny figures, and give the viewer the feel of entering the temple area themselves, especially as the direct perspective leads the eye straight ahead. Even though this was the oldest Buddhist temple in Edo, it seems as though it attracted a number of regular people, perhaps to celebrate the beginning of winter, as the combination of red and white suggests.

See also:

Hiroshige – Agano Snow Scene

Woodblock printing techniques

How to read a Japanese woodblock print