Edo and Meiji Periods

  1. An Introduction to Japanese Prints and the Printing Process I created this PowerPoint presentation to give you a very brief history of Japanese print making and a demonstration of the building of a nishki-e, multi-color print.

  2. Ukioye: Japanese Woodblock Prints This is a wonderful web gallery created by the U. S. Library of Congress. There is a wide range of prints and excellent images to study.

  3. Kunisada and Kabuki This is a great site where you can learn more about the traditions of the Kabuki theater and see the colorful woodblock prints of one of it's most famous artists. There's an introduction to Kunisada's art, a section where you can see what a Kabuki theater looked like and a virtual gallery of all the prints.

  4. Yoshitoshi: An Online Exhibition explores prints by probably the most famous woodblock artist of Meiji Japan. Yoshitoshi saw his work as the culmination of the Ukiyo-e tradition of the preceding Edo period, but he also developed new elements of western style and depicted contemporary events in a way that heralded the modern era. The site includes a biography of the artist and an extensive selection of prints.

  5. Art of the Edo Period 1603-1854 It was not the royal court or samurai elite who inspired artists of this period. The artisans and merchants of Kyoto and Tokyo refined traditional artforms and developed new ones. This site links to three others.

  6. Japonisme Japanese woodblock prints greatly affected Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists. The poster artist Toulouse-Lautrec adapted the exaggerated colors, contours and facial expressions of Kabuki prints in his eye-catching posters.

  7. The World of Edo is a short essay on the great metropolis of Edo (now Tokyo) from 1615 - 1868. There are quick references to the bridges of the city, the Tokaido and Mt. Fuji and Bijinga - woodblock prints of beautiful women.

  8. The Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido click here to view all prints in the great woodblock print series by Ando Hiroshige. Helen Rindsberg created this introduction to the life, legends, entertainment and passions of the common people in 1830s Japan.

  9. Here you can learn about the novel that started the tattoo craze in Edo Heroes of the Suikoden. The illustrations in the book were by Hokusai and they inspired many of the designs on the painted hanten - firemen's special coats.

  10. Japanese Tattoo Art starts with the early history of tattoo art in Japan (5th century AD) and follows it to the present day.

  11. The Japanese Tattoo is another history of Japanese tattoos and it includes photographs of modern tattoos

  12. The Forty-Seven Ronin was a very popular story for woodblock prints and Kabuki theater. The 47 samurai became ronin (masterless samurai) when their master was killed. The story tells their valiant efforts to revenge their master's death.

  13. A Video Guide to Woodblock Printing was created by Dartmouth College and Professor Allen Hockley. You can study the carving process as well as the printing process for building a multi-block print.

  14. Ujiyo-e Techniques was created by Wesleyan University professor Keiji Shinohara. In the videos Professor Shinohara demonstrates traditional and contemporary carving and printing techniques. There's a wonderful gallery of prints with a great zoom feature. The gallery includes prints from the 18th and 19th centuries as well as Professor Shinohara's works. If you don't have Flash Player, you can download it from this site.

  15. Woodblock Printing Terms and Definitions is a wonderful site from OsakaPrints.com. It's a great reference for anyone interested in Kabuki prints and those from the Kansai region - Osaka, Kyoto and Ise.

  16. The Potter's Brush is a web exhibit organized by the Freer & Sackler Galleries. It gives one example of each of six styles that developed from Ogata Kenzan's pioneering work.

  17. Photographs of Kimbei Kusakabe from the New York Public Library Digital Gallery shows 100 prints from an 1888-1890 album with fascinating landscapes and portraits.

  18. Viewing Japanese Prints is a fantastic web site written by John Fiorillo from UC, Berkely. There are overviews on ukiyo-e from Edo and Osaka, as well as information about shin hanga and sosaku hanga prints. At the end of each essay are links to discussions of individual prints and their artists. This is a goldmine for anyone who wants to delve deeper into the meaning of subjects and symbols.

    • Ukiyo-e Edo a great overview of the wide variety of woodblock prints from the earliest black and white to the multi-color brocade prints.
    • Ukiyo-e Osaka has a small selection of these regional specialties from the Edo Period..
    • Shin Hanga advocated the traditional system of woodblock production - designer, carver, printer and published - but updated with more modern images. The shin hanga movement flourished from around 1915 to 1942, though it resumed briefly from 1946 through the 1950s.
    • Sosaku Hanga artists saw printmaking as an elemental and highly personal creative act, not one to be shared with other artisans. They selected their paper, prepared their own blocks (not always made of wood), carved their designs, mixed the pigments, printed the images, and marketed the prints. Their work from 1920s through the late 1950s was a blend of traditional Japanese aesthetics strongly influenced by international trends in art, especially European methods of painting and printmaking.
    • Kindai Hanga gives a peak into the contemporary artists who are working today. Some follow traditional ideas but other certainly push the envelope.
  19. A Virtual Tour of Himeji Castle is a fun way to get lots of different views of this most beautiful castle nicknamed "The White Heron." Unfortunately, the map function was not working Sept. 2006.

  20. Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire is the web site created to compliment the PBS documentary. It's a quick introduction to the Edo Period (1615 - 1868) with short features on people, musical instruments and the Tokaido.

  21. There is a documentary on the woodblock print masterpiece, The Great Wave Off Kanazawa, by Hokusai. It is posted on YouTube in five segments. It explores the life of Hokusai, the formal and contextual elements of the work and even scientific connections with the wave itself. It's fascinating. Each segment is about ten minutes long.


Previous Back to Japanese Art History Next