Tools of craftsperson

Tools of Ukiyo-e


The highest-grade Washi (Japanese paper) called Echizen-kizu-hoshoshi made by living national treasure is used. It has enough durability for Edo woodblock prints that express colors by rubbing pigments into paper fibers many times. So, this Washi (Japanese paper) is ideal for Edo woodblock prints, and produces vivid colors and a warm texture that cannot be expressed with other Washi (Japanese paper).

Hangi (woodblock)

Wild cherry wood is traditionally used for woodblock on which Horishi (carvers) carve the picture. Wild cherry wood is hard enough to be rubbed, has a fine grain, and can minimize bending and shrinkage resulted from changeable temperature. Wild cherry wood is ideal for fine carving and printing numerous prints.

Kogatana (knife)

The process of making cuts on both sides of the pattern with Kogatana (knife) called “Horu (carve)” in Edo woodblock prints, and is the most important work in carving. Many years of training are required to master the technique of carving fine lines on the hard wood of wild cherry.

Nomi (chisel)

Nomi (chisel) is used to scrape off the unnecessary concave parts which will not be colored, and leave the convex parts which has incision in the pattern made with a Kogatana (knife). This work is called “sarai”, and carvers remake their own Nomi (chisel), by sharpening to change the shape of blade to fit their own hands.

Baren (rubbing pad)

Since the Baren (rubbing pad) is the most important tool for Surishi (printers), they use very special Baren (rubbing pad) which can apply force efficiently to Washi (Japanese paper). The Baren (rubbing pad) is also made by craftsperson with traditional materials and very fine techniques. The selected bamboo skin is made into a thin thread, and the thread is knitted to make a long and thin rope. Wounding the rope spirally to make core of Baren (rubbing pad), and layer multiple this core and Washi (Japanese paper) to form the shape of dish. Put it into the Ategawa (lacquer-covered circular form). Finally wrap it with bamboo skin. Surishi (printers) use several different Baren (rubbing pad) depending on the printing part and technique to use.

Hake (brush)

Surishi (printers) use Hake (brush) made from a elasticity, strong and stiff horse tail.


Surishi (printers) mainly use pigments made from natual minerals and plants. Pigments are mixed mainly based on red, blue, and yellow to express complex colors, besides ink used for the outline of Ukiyo-e. While comparing the carved pattern on woodblock and the Hanshita-e (original picture), the Surishi (printers) mix the pigments with considering the color tone of Washi (Japanese paper) and the penetration of pigments.