Gohyaku Rakan-ji

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  • Destroyed: 1820
  • Japanese: 五百羅漢寺 (gohyaku rakan ji)

Gohyaku Rakan-ji (lit. "Temple of 500 Arhats") was a Buddhist temple in Edo, notable for housing, from 1726 onwards, a pair of paintings by Willem Hendrik van Royen, donated to the temple by Shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune, who had received them as a gift from the Dutch East India Company. These were perhaps the only European paintings anywhere in Edo available to be viewed by the general public.

The temple was destroyed in a typhoon in 1820, and the paintings lost. Two reproductions are known, however: one by Tani Bunchô, in the form of a hanging scroll, and one as a pair of illustrations by Fujiwara Morihiro in a 1729 woodblock-printed book by Yamashita Sekichû, entitled "Pictures of One Hundred Bird and Flower [Paintings]" (Gazu hyakkachô). From these reproductions, we can see that the two works included an elaborate still-life featuring numerous different flowers piled high in and around a tall vase or urn, and, in the other work, a peacock and several other birds, with a pine tree in the background.


  • Timon Screech, Obtaining Images, University of Hawaii Press (2012), 317-319.