Welcome to the first dedicated Japanese woodblock print site in Australia, established in 2003 by Peter and Wivine Winch. We sell antique, rare, limited edition and contemporary genuine Japanese woodblock prints. Please contact us via email for shipping costs and payment details.
Japanese Woodblock Prints
Japanese woodblock prints are created by hand carving a number of flat blocks of wood which each display a portion of the total scene to be depicted. It is usual for there to be six carved woodblocks for the creation of a single colour print. Woodblock artists paint the entire picture then break it down into pieces which utilise up to a maximum of three colours for each woodblock to be carved.
The hand made paper used for these prints is called Washi and made from tree bark usually taken from mulberry trees which makes it strong and capable of being soaked in water then dried. The set of woodblocks are capable of printing a maximum of 3000 prints and the process involves soaking the Washi, painting the coloured ink pigments onto an individual carved woodblock, laying the wet Washi onto the block and rubbing the exposed back of the paper with a rounded wooden object called a Barron until the colour has been absorbed into the washi.
Once completed this partial print is dried, usually taking about a week then the process is repeated for the next woodblock until all six woodblocks have been printed and the entire picture can be seen.
There are groupings of Japanese woodblock prints often called schools and these are:
- The Torii School dating from 1700
- The Kaigetsudo School dating from 1700 to 1714
- The Katsukawa School from the second quarter of the 1700s
- The Utagawa School from 1842
- Sosaku Hanga (Creative Prints) began 1904
- Shin Hanga (New Prints) Began 1915.
Another commonly used term for Japanese woodblock prints is Ukiyo-e. The Japanese word ukiyo historically describes the normal working people – and the letter -e means picture so the term Ukiyo-e was used to describe woodblock prints which display realistic scenes of everyday life in Japan from the early 1700s to 1900. Ukiyo-e prints are often called “Pictures of the floating world” where life is hard and has no certainty.
When looking at Japanese woodblock prints it is also helpful to know a basic outline of the chronology of Japanese history as often they are described by the era of their creation. These are:
- Edo Period 1603 to 1868
- Meiji Period 1869 to 1912
- Taisho Period 1913 to 1925
- Showa Era 1926 to 1988
- Heisei Period 1981 to the present day.
We stock Japanese woodblock prints from the Ukiyo-e and Shin Hanga periods, as well as a large range of contemporary prints. A list of artists in our range is as follows:
UKIYO-E WOODBLOCK ARTISTS
CHIKASHIGE, MORIKAWA was a pupil of Kunichika and very little is known about his life or background. Some researchers claim that he lived from 1835 until 1900 but I have never seen any factual evidence of this. What has been documented is that virtually all of his known work was created between 1869 and 1882.
HIROSHIGE, ANDO was born in Edo in 1797 and Died in 1858. In 1831 he was asked to be a minor retainer on an official journey of the Shogun of the Kyoto Court along the Tokaido trail and in the following year produced the first of 13 separate editions of the 53 Stations of the Tokaido Trail.
KUNICHIKA, TOYOHARA was born in 1835 in Kyobashi, Tokyo. In his early teens he became a student of Utagawa Kunisada and later Chikanobu. He was an alcoholic and playboy but created excellent scenes of everyday life, Kabuki drama and the beautiful women who had become part of his lifestyle.
KUNISADA, UTAGAWA was born in the Honjo district in 1786. He entered the school of Utagawa Toyokuni the 1st (1786 to 1825) around 1800 as an apprentice at the age of 14. After the master (Toyokuni) died Kunisada was permitted to use the name Toyokuni the third. He died in 1865.
KUNIYOSHI, UTAGAWA was born in 1797 and died in 1861. It is thought that he trained with Katsukawa Shuntei before he joined the great Utagawa school at 14 years of age. It took Kuniyoshi until 1827 before he gained any commercial success with a series of warrior scenes but once started he flourished.
YOSHITORA, UTAGAWA was a student of Kuniyoshi who only worked between 1840 and the early 1870s. Like all woodblock artists from the 19th Century he created his own versions of some of the older series but his work is uniquely individual in style and displays his amazing artistic insight and creativity.
YOSHITOSHI, TAISO lived from 1839 until 1892 and is considered to be one of the greatest artists of the Meiji era. His series 100 Aspects of the Moon is still thought to be one of the truly great woodblock print series ever created. Unfortunately he suffered from mental illness and he died of a brain hemorrhage at the age of only 53.
SHIN HANGA WOODBLOCK ARTISTS
ASANO, TAKEJI was born in Kyoto in 1900 and lived to 1999. In 1930, along with other members of the Creative Print Society, he contributed to a series of prints titled “Creative Prints of Twelve Months in New Kyoto” (Sosaku-hanga shin Kyoto junikagetsu). Many of his works have been published by Unsodo.
HASUI, KAWASE lived from 1883 until 1957. During his Life he Created Over 600 Different Woodblock Scenes and he is Recognised as one of Most Prolific and Most Talented of Shin Hanga Artists. It is no wonder that a Year Prior to his Death he was Honored with the Title of a Living National Treasure.
KASAMATSU, SHIRO lived from 1898 to 1991. He was Born in Asakusa, Tokyo, and became a student of Kiyotaka at the Age of 13. He is one of the most highly respected of the Shin Hanga Artists. He was published by Watanabe then Unsodo and in the late 1950s decided to only produce self published works.
KOTOZUKA, EIICHI lived from 1906 to 1979. He was one of four artists who founded the Koryokusha co-operative publishing company in an effort to gain artistic freedom from the major houses. You will not find better value woodblock prints than those by Kotozuka as he has not yet been recognised by many collectors.
NAKAZAWA, HIROMITSU was born in Tokyo and lived from 1874 to 1964 . He was one of the Earliest Moku Hanga Artists but he did not gain any great appreciation or recognition until after the Second World War when his style and skill was accepted by a wide audience and he won a number of awards in Japan.
TOKURIKI, TOMIKICHIRO (1902-2000) was the 12th generation of artists in his Family. He was an ardent supporter of the Sosaka Hanga and Shin Hanga Movements and is one of the Most Highly Respected Woodblock Artists of the 20th Century. He also ran the Matsukyu Publishing Company.
CONTEMPORARY WOODBLOCK ARTISTS
FUJITA, FUMIO was born in 1933. He studied at the Musashino College of Fine Arts and began creating woodblock prints in 1963. He is one of the few contemporary artists to be contracted by a major woodblock publisher while retaining his independence and creating woodblocks himself.
FUKAMI, GASHU was born in 1953 and studied print making under Takeji Asano. He has since had one man exhibitions in a large number of prestigious Japanese Galleries as well as in New York. His unique style and use of colour and form make him a leader among modern woodblock artists.
HIROSE, TAKASHI was born in 1955 and studied Oil Painting at Musashino University. After Graduating he became a student of the famous Joichi Hoshi. Though he is much revered by Japanese collectors he is still little known in the West as most of his work is sold very quickly at exhibitions in Japan.
IDO, MASAO was born in China in 1945 and moved to Japan in 1946. He is one of the most highly regarded of contemporary woodblock artists and has work in many museums including the MoMA in New York, the Boston Art Museum, the Kyoto and Tokyo National Museums and the Florence Municipal Museum.
KANEKO, KUNIO was born in Tokyo in 1949 and studied at the Musashino University of Fine Arts. He often uses gold leaf in the colouring of his woodblocks to extremely good effect and has a well established reputation through a number of exhibitions in New York, Tokyo and regional Japanese cities.
KATO, TERUHIDE was born in 1936. He had a successful career as a Kimono Designer but at the Age of 50 decided to follow his lifelong ambition to become woodblock artist. He has had his Woodblocks shown in New York as well as having a book, entitled Kyoto Romance, published about his work.
KIMURA, YOSHIHARU was born in Tokyo in 1934. In 1957 he gained recognition in Japan and internationally when he won a prize at the Nihon Banga-in Exhibition. Among his other successful Shows there have been one man exhibitions at the Odakyu Department Store in Japan and in Philadelphia.
MAEDA, KOICHI was born in 1936. He has won many awards including the Art Festival Award at the Shizuoka Prefecture Art Festival in 1978 and 1979 and the Mayor’s Award at the Exhibition of Shizuoka Prefecture Woodblock Print Show in 1997. His work is highly sought after by collectors in the U.S.A..
MINAGAWA, TAIZO was born in 1917. An expert dyer, his woodblock scenes show a unique understanding of the art form and his dyeing skills can be seen in his use of colours. His small series of scenes from a journey to Korea were very popular on his return. He died in 2005 and has many works in Museums.
MORIMURA, REI was Born in Tokyo in 1948. In 2000 he held a solo exhibition at Kanazawa, Ishikawa. In 2002 another solo exhibition at the Azuma Gallery in Seattle consolidated international demand for his work. Since then, solo shows in Tokyo have been popular and sell-out events.
NAMIKI, HAJIME (born 1947) began his artistic career as a sculpture. In the late 1970s he started to create woodblock prints and quickly gained a reputation on the international market, even having his work on display in the White House. His Use of Silver and Gold Leaf on Torinoko Paper is his trademark.
NISHIJIMA, KATSUYUKI was born in 1945 in Yamaguchi Province of Japan. From 1964 to 1968 he studiedin the studio of the Mikumo publishing house in Kyoto as well as exhibiting his work with the Kyoto independent artists and in solo displays. We stock a large selection of hand-signed first limited editions.
OSANAI, TOSHIKAGE was born in Aomori Province in 1947. He Graduated from Yamagata University after Studying under Hayashiba. He was selected to join the Institute of Japan Prints as well as other Organisations and has won a number of awards including the Grand Prize for Prints in 1988.
OHTSU, KAZUYUKI was born in 1935. In 1954 he became an assistant to Kiyoshi Saito, a leading artist of the Sosaku Hanga movement. Ohtsu learned every facet of print making from painting the original designs and carving the individual woodblocks to hand printing the final piece.
SOMEYA, HISAO was Born in 1935. His woodblocks are always limited editions and very difficult to find. He has received scholarships to study in France but usually focuses on scenes of the city and suburbs of Tokyo where his unique style is much appreciated by locals. His works are rarely found outside Japan.
SUGIYAMA, MOTOSUGU was born in 1925. Though he didn’t start creating woodblocks until his fifties, he has won amazing international recognition. All his scenes are now out of print and very difficult to find so are obviously among the best Japanese art investments one can find.
TAKAO, SANO was born in 1941 and was awarded his first public acclamation at the Nihon Hangain in 1959. Since then he has won prizes for his artwork in 1975, 1976 and every year From 1995 to 2009. Much of his work is printed by the historic Watanabe Woodblock Printing Company.
TANAKA, YOKO was born in 1947 and died in 2008. Her woodblocks are extremely difficult to find with a very few offered via international woodblock auction houses and one or two retrospective exhibitions held at large Tokyo Galleries where examples owned by private collectors are displayed.
TANAKA, YOSHIKAZU was born in 1933. In the 1980s his works were exhibited held in Mexico and Australia. His work can be seen in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Mexico Guanut Museum. In 2008 the Kyoto Museum included his work in the Japan and American International Woodblock Print Shows.
THE YOSHIDA FAMILY: YOSHIDA, HIROSHI (1886-1950) was a leading figure in the Shin Hanga movement. YOSHIDA, TOSHI (1911-1995), is the first son of Hiroshi Yoshida; YOSHIDA, HODAKA (born 1926) is the second son. YOSHIDA, TSUKASA (born 1949) is the son of Toshi Yoshida.
BLACK SUMI WOODBLOCK ARTISTS
KATSURAGAWA, NARUMI was born in 1974. In 2001 and 2006 she won awards at the prestigious Japan Print Association Exhibition. In 2005 she was one of a five-member female artist tour of Europe and her work was included in the International Japanese Contemporary Print exhibition in Bulgaria.
YUASA, HIROSHI was born in 1933. He was a student of Hiratsuka Un’ichi and created his reputation through regular exhibits at the annual To-no-Kai Print Shows held in the Osaka Contemporary Arts Centre in Spring and Gallery Masagu in Autumn. His woodblocks are very rarely found outside Japan.
SHIBUYA, MASAKI is a modern print maker who uses mostly traditional Sumi Ink of heavy weight Washi, traditional hand made Japanese paper. He is very popular in Japan and is becoming known in the Western Art World. His prints are low priced and one of the best art investments to be found in Japan.
MORE BLACK SUMI ARTISTS: AOSHIMA, SHIGERU; MAKINO, HIROKI; TAKENAKA, FU; YAMADA, MITSUYO; TSURUSAWA, KEIKO; HARA,HIROSHI.