Amusements at Itsukushima


Amusements at Itsukushima

Paintings / Edo

Artist unknown

Edo period, 17th century

Color on gold leafed paper



This folding-screen painting portrays Itsukushima Shrine in modern-day Hiroshima Prefecture. Depicted from the north, the scene bustles with visitors vividly enjoying themselves. We can almost hear the clamor of the pilgrims arriving by boat and the guesthouse owners coming to greet them.

This human world stands in contrast to the realm of the gods, as represented by the red shrine buildings. We can glimpse the deep connection between humans and deer in the way the beasts appear to guide people through this sacred domain.

Paintings depicting the ways and customs of everyday people were produced in volume in the 17th century, during the Edo period. Famous places like Itsukushima or Matsushima were popular subjects owing to their beautiful scenery and their familiarity as symbolic religious motifs. Perhaps people appreciated these works while imagining their own pilgrimage to a holy site.

Though the paintings depict sacred locations, the true subjects are the people within. The people here are so full of life thanks to the divine protection of Itsukushima. This understanding is reflected in the joyous depiction of an earthly paradise filled with pilgrims enjoying themselves.

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