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  Woodblock Prints
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  The 69 Stations
  53 Stages in Photos
  Toyokuni III
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  Yoshiwara in Prints
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  Hiroshige Views of Edo
  Hiroshige 36 Views
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  Hiroshige Gallery
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  Hokusai Gallery 2
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The Japanese Woodblock Print is an art form, which highlights flowing, curved outlines, simplistic forms as well as the detailing of flat areas containing color.  This form of art has not only existed for a long time in Asian history, but it has also deeply impacted artists in both Europe and North America throughout the 19th century. 

Woodblock printing was first used in Japan in the 8th century to print religious texts. Buddhists traveling from China brought these texts, as well as the printing method itself, to Japan. 

These first prints were made in a single color using only Sumi ink. The world would have to wait nearly 900 years for the first colored prints to appear. Early color prints were made using a single block and black ink. The colors were hand painted by workers in the print shops. It was only when the popularity of these prints exceeded the production capacity of the workshops that the true woodblock print evolved.  Click here to read more.


Ukiyo-e is probably the best known and most popular style of Japanese art.  Like artistic eras in other parts of the world, Ukiyo-e art was produced in a variety of different media, including painting.  Ukiyo-e, which is Japanese for "pictures of the floating world”, is primarily associated with a style of woodblock print making that depicted scenes of harmony and carefree everyday living.  Because it used woodblocks to make a number of prints, Ukiyo-e took art from being the domain of the upper classes and royalty.  This then made it more accessible to the common people. 

Ukiyo-e became popular around the mid-nineteenth century.  One of the first major artists in the Ukiyo-e was Monorobu Hishikawa, who produced single color prints made with woodblocks.  Hishikawa, who was an illustrator for a book publisher, had to argue very hard to convince his superiors that printing and selling single sheet artworks would be a lucrative enterprise.  This is certainly ironic, since Ukiyo-e became one of the most popular and lucrative forms of art the world has ever seen. Click here to learn more about this art...


One of the greatest printmakers of the 18th century was Toyokuni Utagawa.  Known for his ukiyo-e (printmaking) of actors and beautiful women, he has best influenced the generation of ukiyo-e designers that followed him.  He was the head of his school Utagawa.  This was a school that was composed of Japanese printmakers that are also commonly called woodblock artists.  His pupils knew Utagawa as Toyokuni I.  The reason was so that he could be distinguished from the rest of his students who followed quite closely in his artwork footsteps.  

Toyokuni was born in 1769 and was the son of a doll carver and puppet maker -Kurohashi Gorobei.  By the age of 14, Toyokuni was apprenticed to a trusted friend of his fathers.  This man was Toyoharu Utagawa and was the head of the Utagawa household.  Toyokuni studied printmaking, and as his career began he spent most of his concentration on the images of beautiful women; this is known as bijin-ga.  Toyokunis early works were known to be influenced by Shigemasa and Kiyonaga.  Toyokuni later took on the name Utagawa in honor of his teacher.  It was not uncommon for an apprentice to take one syllable from their teachers name and add it as apart of theirs.  Many of Toyokunis students did the same with his. Click here to read more.


The highly popular Japanese art form of Ukiyo-e, which was prominent for the better part of three hundred years, is marked by several different eras.  At its height, Ukiyo-e was known for its attention to detail, especially in the woodblock prints, which were the most significant media of the period. 

While landscapes and scenes of ordinary life became popular towards the end of the Ukiyo-e period, woodblock prints of beautiful women were the first subjects of Ukiyo-e artists in the late seventeenth century and these types of prints remained popular until Ukiyo-e fell from prominence in the mid-1800s.  These types of prints were known as "bijin-ga”, which is Japanese for “beautiful woman”.  One of the more popular bijin-ga artists of the later part of the Ukiyo-e period was Kikugawa Eisen, who produced prints for about twenty years at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Click here to read more.


Ando Hiroshige is one of the most popular Japanese artists in history.  From humble beginnings, Ando Hiroshige went from being a fire warden to being considered perhaps the greatest painter and printmaker of the nineteenth century.  Hiroshige worked in the medium of "ukiyo-e”, which is Japanese for making prints that were widely distributed and his more than 5,400 works are still popular today.  Because he worked with woodblock printing, quite a number of his original works still circulate in the art world.  However, Hiroshige's legacy has also been preserved with any number of modern reprintings of his most famous pieces. 

Hiroshige was born in 1797 with the name Ando Tokutaro.  His father was a fire warden, and young Ando at first followed him into this trade but there were early signs that Ando was destined for a career in art.  For instance, a drawing or painting he did at age 10 is said to have aroused considerable interest from teachers and artists nearby.  When both his parents died while he was just 12, young Ando decided to pursue a career in art.  In 1811, he enrolled as an apprentice with the famous Utagawa painting school, working with ukiyo-e master Toyohiro Utagawa.  He graduated in 1812, and as was traditional, took the name of his master, christening himself Utagawa Hiroshige. Click here to read more.


Utamaro Kitagawa is known as the greatest ukiyo-e (printmaking) artist of the late 18th century.  Unfortunately, there is very little known of his life.  There are no records of his parents, his birthplace or the year he was born.  Through the records that have been recovered, historians believe that Utamaro was born sometime around the years of 1750-1754.  Although dates may be sceptical, there is no denying his esteemed and phenomenal talent as an artist. 

Utamaros original name was Ichitaro Kitagawa, and like most artists in Japan during this time, Utamaro began his career as an apprentice to the painter Toriyama Sekien.  His many early works consisted mainly of actor portraits that were incredibly famous at the time due to the popularity of the Kabuki theatres.  In around 1781-1782, was the time he changed his name to Kitagawa Utamaro.  He began a successful partnership with Tsutaya Juzburo who was a well-known publisher in 1783.  Forged as a team, they published many book illustrations together. Click here to read more.

We offer the Internet's largest selection of Asian Arts, Crafts, and Collectibles with over 4,000 different items in stock in our Maryland warehouse. Our products are handcrafted and imported from Japan, China, Korea, Bali, India, Vietnam, Russia, Ceylon, Nepal, and Thailand. So sit back, relax, and enjoy your visit.

 
The Great Wave by Hokusai
The Great Wave by Hokusai
Kabuki by Utagawa
Kabuki by Utagawa
3 Beauties by Utamaro
3 Beauties by Utamaro
General in Battle by Utagawa
General in Battle by Utagawa
Mt Fuji by Hiroshige
Mt Fuji by Hiroshige
 
 

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