The Traditional Woodcut Printing Techniques That Gave Birth to Ukiyo-e Masterpieces

Ukiyo-e blossomed at the center of the culture of Edo (present-day Tokyo) and became widely popular among the common people by capturing the trends of the times such as popular actors and courtesans and places of interest. After the end of the Edo Period, The vivid colors and distinctive compositions greatly influenced Impressionist artists such as Van Gogh and Monet and people around the world. Still today, ukiyo-e is widely appreciated around the country and the world as a representative cultural heritage of Japan. Greatly contributing to the popularity of ukiyo-e are traditional woodcut printing techniques, which were developed for the mass production of ukiyo-e.

Uniquely Japanese Materials & Techniques of the Artisans – The Beauty of Traditional Woodcut Prints

Traditional woodcut prints, as typified by ukiyo-e, is a comprehensive art that is created by the artist, carver, printer, and the publisher who produces the work. The masterly skills of the artisans in each field give birth to the exquisite beauty of ukiyo-e. Using uniquely Japanese materials such as woodblocks made from the wild mountain cherry tree, handcrafted washi Japanese paper and water-based pigments, artisans create the vivid colors and warm textures of woodcut prints that cannot be expressed through other printing methods. As a form of commercial printing, ukiyo-e needed to be beautiful as well as efficient in its production process, and this resulted in the minimalistic and refined beauty that is one of the unique appeals of ukiyo-e.

Continuing into the Future and Around the World – Exploring the Possibilities of Traditional Woodcut Printing

Our foundation is working to preserve and pass on traditional woodcut printing techniques, which have constantly evolved as production techniques for ukiyo-e, capturing the trends of the times and giving birth to diverse forms of expression. We believe that in order for these techniques to retain their appeal, we must continue to produce new works that reflect the times in the present day and in the future and release them to the public and around the world. Our foundation will continue to explore new possibilities for traditional woodcut printing through collaborations between internationally active contemporary artists and contemporary carvers and printers.