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Short history of printmaking in Japan

In the 19th -century Tokyo, the center for the production of luxury goods for domestic and export markets, connoisseurship of ukkkiyo-e prints had been established at least a century earlier. Appreciation for ukiyo-e originally flowered in Kyoto, the ancient imperial capitol. In Tokyo it was one of the many courtly arts to be cultivated by a new mercantile society.

This information and image from The Artist's Magazine, October 2007

Flowering Apple Trees,
a woodblock print by Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858)


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  • printjapan
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Before the developement of the ukiyo-e style, woodblock printing had also been used for paper records, instruction manuals, religious tracts, and the spreading of early literature. Thus a woodblock print can be conceived as a work of both arts and letters, and it is both fine and popular art, as best exemplified in early posters that have text and image combined.

Text and image from

The Artist's Magazine, October 2007


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  • printjapan2

Hokusai - Peonies and Butterfly (in the breeze)

Dear Yoko, thank you for this information about the Japanese art wood prints. It is very interesting and made me want to look for further pictures.

May this art be learned and performed also by the contemporaneous generation in order to be continued in the future.


Margherita Smile
Thank you yoko for this interesting topic.

I found a little bit of information at the following website:

The popular theater of Japan, kabuki, helped the Ukiyo-e print to flourish; portraits of the most famous actors in dramatic roles were particular favorites. The artist most associated with this period is Tóshûsai Sharaku (flourished 1790-95). His prints are highly melodramatic, emphasizing exaggerated facial lines and beautiful costumes.

I am not sure if the image is from the Ukiyo-e period, it was not on the same website and I have no precise information about it, except that it is a Japanese woodblock print.


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  • printjapan3
What a lovely topic yoko.

I found a little bit more information on Wikkipedia:

Ukiyo-e (浮世絵, Ukiyo-e?), "pictures of the floating world", is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints (or woodcuts) and paintings produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries, featuring motifs of landscapes, tales from history, the theatre and pleasure quarters. It is the main artistic genre of woodblock printing in Japan.


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  • woodblock
Thank you Margherita, Inda, Sue, Vicky and Gisele.

Your images are beautiful.

From the same Artist's Magazine:

Meet Richard Steiner

Steiner was born in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1939. After working as a fashion photographer in New York City, he left the United States at the height of the Vietnam War.
From 1970 to 1960, he studied woodblock printmaking under Masahiko Tokumitsu in Hiroshima. He is married to Kimiko Kuroda, who is a well published translator. They live in Kyoto, where the large number of art collages and universities makes the city seem a little like Boston (while Tokyo is more like New York). Steiner's teaching stints have supported a simple artist's lifestyle and have the prices of his works extremely reasonable. Steiner also makes books and binds them by hand.

Steiner is ambidextrous, he sometimes works with one of a dozen blades and knives in each hand.

His website, gives a good overview of his work.

Richard Steiner

On the eighth day

Last edited by yoko
Thank you yoko.

There seems to have been quite an interest in Japanese woodblock prints in the 1800's

Monet, like many others, was carried away. He began collecting woodblocks by the greatest masters, Hokusai, Hiroshige, Utamaro... "Hiroshige is a wonderful impressionist, Camille Pissarro wrote to his son. "Me, Monet and Rodin are enthousiastic about them."

The fancy for Japanese engravings seized also painters such as Vincent van Gogh, politician like Georges Clemenceau, writers like Edmond de Goncourt or Emile Zola.



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