The Journey

Writing Box (Suzuribako) with Monk Saigyo

  • 25
  • Uematsu Homin (Japanese, 1845–1902)
  • Japan
  • Meiji period, late 19th century
  • Lacquer, mother-of-pearl, gold on wood
  • H. 7 7/8 x W. 6 7/8 x D. 1 1/2 in. (19.8 x 17.7 x 4 cm)
  • John C. Weber Collection
  • Yoshino Mountains
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This writing box attests to the continuing reverence for the twelfth-century Japanese Buddhist monk and poet Saigyo into the nineteenth century. The scene on the cover of the box shows Saigyo reclining on the ground with his traveling pack and wide-brimmed hat beside him, as flower petals rain down upon him. The location is identified in a verse inscribed on the inside cover as Mount Yoshino, a pilgrimage site famous for its cherry blossoms and the inspiration for many of Saigyo's most beloved poems. The poem notes how, as Saigyo spends a night of his journey under the mountain trees, a spring breeze pulls a quilt of blossoms over him.

PHOTO CREDIT: John Deane


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