|KEY WORD : art history / paintings|
| An area
in Mt. Oomine 大峰, Nara, most famous for cherry blossoms. Important not only
as a place of great scenic beauty, but for historical and literary associations
as well. Yoshino served as the capital of the Southern Court Nanchou
南朝 of Emperor Godaigo 後醍醐 (r.1318-39), during the tumultuous *Nanbokuchou
jidai 南北朝時代. Kinpusenji 金峯山寺, head temple of Kinpusen Buddhism shugendou 修験道 where aesthetics and pilgrims have visited since ancient times, is located
in Yoshino. Legend has it that the cherry trees were planted in the
7c by *En no Gyouja 役行者 and dedicated to the god of the mountains *Zaou
Gongen 蔵王権現. The beautiful cherry blossoms of Yoshino were
a favorite subject of poets, especially since the time of the compilation
of the anthology KOKINSHUU 古今集 in 905. Several of the poems of Saigyou 西行 (1118-90 : see *saigyou monogatari-e 西行物語絵) refer to Yoshino, and a famous scene in a version of his
illustrated biography show him under a blossoming cherry.
Cherry blossom viewing at Yoshino became a frequently depicted genre scene in *yamato-e やまと絵 and such depictions immediately served to represent the spring. Documentary evidence suggests that themes taken from poems about Yoshino's cherries, which were often paired with the autumn leaves of Tatsuta River *Tatsutagawa 竜田川, assumed visual form in painting and design motifs by the 13c. By the 17c the theme was often painted on large format screens. A pair of screens by Watanabe Shikou 渡辺始興 (1683-1755 ) is one example.
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