Fudō Myōō Threatening a Novice

Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japanese, 1839–1892)

Period: Meiji period (1868–1912)

Date: 1885

Culture: Japan

Medium: Triptych of polychrome woodblock prints; ink and color on paper

Dimensions: Overall (a): 14 3/4 x 10 in. (37.5 x 25.4 cm)
Overall (b): 14 5/8 x 10 in. (37.1 x 25.4 cm)
Overall (c): 14 15/16 x 10 1/16 in. (37.9 x 25.6 cm)

Classification: Prints

Credit Line: Purchase, Friends of Asian Art Gifts, 2005

Accession Number: 2005.350a–c


This print illustrates a legend about the thirty-sixth Abbot Yūten (1637–1718) of Zōjōji, the family temple of the Tokugawa shoguns. While Yūten was a young novice, he prayed for Fudō Myōō's aid to become a wise Buddhist monk. He dreamed that the statue of Fudō Myōō jumped down from its pedestal and made him swallow one of Fudō's two swords. When Yūten woke up, he became an excellent monk. In the center print the statue of Fudō aims his sword at a young Yūten, while Fudō's two attendants witness his magical power from the two sides. At the end of the Edo period Yoshitoshi, a disciple of Kuniyoshi, departed from Kuniyoshi's dense, dynamic presentation of motifs, and moved instead to airy, theatrical compositions during the Meiji period. This print demonstrates the excellence of the artist's later style.