Houkokusai 豊国祭
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Lit. Houkoku festival. The special celebration on the seventh anniversary of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's 豊臣秀吉 (1536-98) death, held between the 12th and 15th days of the eighth month, 1604, at the Houkoku Jinja 豊国神社 in southwest Kyoto, where Toyotomi Hideyoshi is enshrined with the posthumous name Houkoku Daimyoujin 豊国大明神. The theme, included in paintings of daily life *fuuzokuga 風俗画, was painted primarily in the decade between 1604 and 1615, and served to record this famous one-time event. The extraordinary spectacle and crowds of the festival are depicted prominently on the large format of pairs of folding screens. The events of the 14th day, which included a cavalcade of warriors and priests as well as imperial court dance *bugaku 舞楽, and *nou 能 performances, are typically presented on the right screen with the Houkoku Jinja in the background. The climax of the festival was a massive dance held on the 15th called the Houkoku dance or *fuuryuu 風流. This was performed by 500 people from all sections of the city who wore outlandish costumes and danced in a large circle, and is usually depicted on the left-hand screen together with the no longer extant Great Buddha Hall, Daibutsuden 大仏殿, of Hideyoshi's Houkouji 方広寺. The screens at Houkoku Jinja, painted by Kanou Naizen 狩野内善 (1570-1616), and commissioned by Hideyoshi's captain Katagiri Katsumoto 片桐且元 (1556-1614), were donated to the shrine in 1606. The Tokugawa 徳川 Art Museum version, attributed to Iwasa Matabee 岩佐又兵衛 (1578-1650), is identical in composition, but was probably painted about ten years after the festival. The now lost Jinguu Choukokan 神宮徴古館 version also featured the fuuryuu dance on the left screen but added various other outdoor activities not connected with the festival. With the final collapse of the Toyotomi family in 1615, paintings of the theme became exceedingly rare.


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