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Our print this time is perhaps the ‘biggest’ in the entire set; surely we won’t be showing anything larger than Shirasagi-jo, the White Heron Castle! And as you can see, it is so large that I couldn’t fit it all into the scene!
Japanese Architecture of course had to be one of the ‘Arts’ included in this series. And in fact it will probably appear again later, as there are a number of distinctive architectural styles associated with traditional Japanese culture, and I think it would be possible to create an entire print set like this one, entirely based on nothing but this topic.
I think that most of the Japan-based collectors of this set have probably visited this castle at some point; perhaps as a member of a school tour group, or later as a tourist. I myself first saw it back in January of 1982. It was my first trip to Japan, and Himeji was one of the places on my ‘don’t miss’ list. It was unfortunately a drizzly rainy day, so we couldn’t enjoy the famous view of the white castle standing against a bright blue sky, but it was an impressive experience nonetheless.
When it came time to design this print, I knew that I didn’t want to simply create a ‘postcard’ view of the entire castle; we have cameras for that job these days. But I wanted to try and depict the complexity of the construction, the many interesting shapes and patterns, and at least something of the huge bulk and towering height of the structure.
That’s an awful lot to cram into such a small woodblock print, and I’m not all that confident that I succeeded in the task. But the print was fun to make, and I hope that perhaps it might encourage those of you who haven’t yet made the trek to Himeji to go and see this incredible structure!
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