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Subject:A historical question
Posted By: Horst Graebner Mon, Apr 19, 2021 IP:

I have a woodblock print (it's not a painting), originally mounted as hanging scroll, the format is 87 x 30 cm.
Stylistically, it should be from the second half of the 19th century.
At first glance, the print looks like a musha-e: a gathering of warlords from the Sengoku / Azuchi Momoyama period (for example:
Shōdai Shimōsa no kami Kiyonaga, Katō Yozaemon Kiyotaka, Aoki (?) Tosa no kami Masanao, Kimura Matazō, Inoue Taikurō, Katō Seibei etc).
The man in the top center could be Katō Kiyomasa (I couldn't find the kanji for this name, however).
The cartousches left and right below give the editor as Hokozan Jōon-ji (法光山長遠寺) (a Nichiren Buddhism temple) and its adress in province Echigo, district Kubiki, Takada (Echigo-koku kubiki-gun Takada - 越後国(國)頸城郡高田).
The red banner at the top right is the Gohonzon "Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō" (南無妙法蓮華経).
So it is clearly a Buddhist print.
I cannot read the text on top of the print, my knowledge of Japanese is insufficient.
My question: what is the point of the connection between the early warlords and the Buddhist temple at the end of the 19th century?
Does anyone have an idea and / or can I give me references to literature for further reading?

Subject:Re: A historical question
Posted By: I.Nagy Tue, Apr 20, 2021

The inscription on the print is a quotaton from one of the works of Nichiren, the founder of the Nichiren sect (1222-1282)
I translate here only the first 3 lines.
(Alternativ kanas are rendered in their modern forms)
Tōki-shō iwazareba
Hokekyō no gyōsha no inoru inori wa hibiki no
oto ni ōzuru ga gotoku, Kage no tai ni soeru
ga gotoku, Sumeru mizu ni tsuki no utsuru ga gotoku....
According to the prayer book
The chanting of the Hokekyō (Lotus Sutra) is like the prayer responding to the sound of echo,
like a shadow accoppanying the body, or like
the moon mooving on the surface of cold water...

I think that the warlords of the Sengoku era had nothing to do with the Jōon-ji Temple in Echigo.
It was simply a kind of tie-up sale of religious teachings texts practiced by that Temple at the end of Edo period or in early Meiji era.

With regards,

Subject:Re: A historical question
Posted By: Horst Graebner Wed, Apr 21, 2021

Dear I.Nagy,
thank you very much for reading the text. In any case, it is clear that the text does not provide any information about the representation of the warlords.
Even if there is no direct connection between the monastery and the warlords and the print is only a tie-up sale, the question remains why the monks of the monastery chose a connection to the warlords as their motif.
Well, then Buddhism researchers can find out. :-)
Best regards
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