Nissaka: Night-Weeping Stone


Nissaka: Night-Weeping Stone


Junichiro SEKINO
Japanese, 1914–1988




Number 26 from Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido.

Like many Japanese printmakers, Sekino struggled with the competing claims of tradition and modernity in creating his identity as an artist. Trained in western techniques of landscape oil painting, he was almost entirely self-taught in printmaking. Before World War II, Sekino was well known for prints of famous Kabuki actors and other theater-inspired pieces. When he turned to landscape after the war, he shifted away from realistic detail and shading in his prints, adopting the vivid, clean lines of a more simplified and modern style. In 1959, Sekino began work on a sequence of prints that revisited the Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido, a series made famous over one hundred years earlier by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858). Sekino returned to sketch different places on the old Tokaido road each year. The completion of this series in 1974 was recognized with a Ministry of Education Award.

This print portrays the Yonakiishi, or “Night-Weeping Stone,” which sits in a pavilion just outside Nissaka. The legend of the stone tells of a pregnant woman who was murdered but whose child was saved by the goddess Kannon. When the boy matured, he avenged his mother, though the stone still weeps for her. Over the years, it became a visiting spot for travelers on the Tokaido. The lotus flowers in the foreground are a reoccurring theme of beauty in Japanese art, while the distinctive architectural design of the building and lanterns in the background appear in a minimalist arrangement that lends a modern perspective to this traditional view.


Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University, Transfer from The Pennsylvania State University Libraries Print Collection




This image is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. Other uses are not permitted.


Woodblock print