About Japanese Woodblock printing

Japanese woodblock printing originated in ancient China and was brought to Japan after the unification of the country and Shogunat rule was established. Japanese woodblock prints, also called ukiyo-e (which means image of the floating world) are a traditional art form, which started to grow very popular in the newly created capital Edo (now Tokyo) from around 1600 and are now strongly sought after by art enthusiasts all over the world.

The process of japanese woodblock printingHow a woodblock print is created

The process of making a woodblock print is generally divided into three main tasks: the artist is drawing the design on thin paper. Then the artist leaves his designs to a workshop with a woodcarver and a printer. The wood carver places the paper on wooden blocks, mostly made from cherry wood and engraves the blocks with the appropriate chisels and gouges. One block is carved after each other, each colour a new wood block. From the hands of the carver, the blocks are then taken to the printer who arranges the blocks in consecutive order and prints them on Japanese rice paper (which is made from mulberry bark) using water colours. The third task is to sell the woodblock prints. Therefore, and for the responsibility of decisions any other kind, a publisher took over. More than 2.000 publishers during Edo-Period (1603 – 1868), including book publishers are known.