Biyakugo-Ji, Nara 70’ (A), 1970
Gift of Ted and Marcia Marks in memory of Emily Howe Marks
This print represents the region outside the Biyakugo-ji Buddhist temple in Nara, Japan. This temple was devoted to a new Buddhist sect of the Kamakura period (1185-1333). While old Buddhist temples occupied the city center, the new temples existed outside of it. The linear perspective of this work directs the viewer’s gaze down the alley and into the enclave in the corner, leading the viewer to visually walk down the path. The straight lines that form the architectural structures contrast with the heavy, curved branch that hovers over the structures. The dark tone and meandering composition channels Saito’s personal associations of distance, loss, and abandonment with Buddhist temples: in his youth he was forced to live in a Buddhist temple when his mother passed away.