History and culture of Edo woodblock prints

Edo woodblock prints are the Japanese original multicolor woodblock prints with original materials, technology, and expression, and it is said the root of Japanese printing technology.

That technology was established in the late Edo period when the people’s culture blossomed and has grown in the life of people as a role of printing manually newspapers and magazines read by people everyday. People in Edo period get latest information such as fashion, travel, and etc through Ukiyo-e.

Development was supported by the activities of Edo genius Ukiyo-e painters such as Utamaro Kitagawa, Sharaku Toshusai, Hokusai Katsushika, and Hiroshige Utagawa. They competed with each other by drawing a new design of Ukiyo-e woodblock prints, and created the Japanese unique printing culture.
History and culture of Edo woodblock prints
Since then, that culture has had a great influence on European artists such as Monet, Van Gogh, and Debussy, and is still widely loved around the world as one of art cultures that Japan can be proud of.
Among them, Hokusai Katsushika is the only Japanese person to be selected as one of the “The 100 Most Important Events and People of the Past 1,000 Years” by LIFE magazine, and his popularity will not decline.

This technology has been inherited by craftsperson for more than 170 years mainly in Tokyo until today.

The charm of Edo woodblock prints is the vivid colors that are created by multicolor woodblock prints. Printing maximum 20 to 30 times accurately layered to express a unique vivid color tone.

Using the highest-grade Washi (Japanese paper) called Echizen-kizu-hoshoshi, you can feel the gentle warmth from the soft and thick texture and the appearance of pigment that soaks into the Japanese paper.

Another feature of Edo woodblock prints is that you can see the traces of rubbing that are unique to handmade prints. When you turn the paper over, the pigment on the front soaks reflected to the backside of paper can be seen and you can enjoy to seek the traces of Baren (rubbing pad) movoment which Surishi (printer) make.

And above all, you can enjoy the historical romance contained in the prints and this is one of the reasons why this culture still fascinates people all over the world. When you see the same things as the people of Edo period, and image their life and landscapes, you can feel the romance as if you had traveled back in time to the Edo period.