This is a rare depiction of a practitioner of Shingon, the Japanese form of tantric Buddhism. From what I can gather, this is what would be comparable in modern times to a poster for an opera or play. This is a very well-known Kabuki actor performing a scene from a play where he goes to practice under a waterfall, which apparently is a traditional shingon practice.
I spotted this piece about twenty years ago in the window of a very small gallery in Montreal that specializes in Japanese art. It stayed in that window for many years, and as I would walk by, I kept thinking that I wanted to buy it. The gallery owner told me she had found each of the pieces of the triptych separately in a pile of old prints in a store in Japan. It disappeared from the window before I could get together the money to buy it, but then years later, it reappeared. Apparently, the buyer’s husband was having trouble living with it. Then, the owner of the store took it for a while, and I missed my chance once again. Finally, when I took the art director job here, I thought it would be perfect. I called and it was available again. I flew to Montreal and bought it. Now it’s in my home and on the cover of the magazine. –Seth Levinson
This 18th century Japanese print of Chikanobu, original triptych 31" x 7", is being made available by the print’s owner and Buddhadharma’s art director, Seth Levinson. It is offered here in print form.
Prices are in US dollars. Taxes Included.