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~Past Event ~
2005 Information

Ukiyo-e Printing Demonstration
@ Aki Matsuri

Ukiyo-e printing demonstrations were one of the featured events held as a part of 2005 Aki Matsuri (Japanese Fall Festival), sponsored by Eastside Nihon Matsuri Association in cooperation with the Japan Foundation, the Adachi Institute of Woodcut Print, and the Consulate-General of Japan at Seattle.

"Ukiyo-e (Japanese Traditional Woodblock Print) is a composite art form in which the artists (E-SHI) who draw the design, the carvers (HORI-SHI) who carve the woodblock, and the printers (SURI-SHI) who print the woodblocks, work together to create a delicate and beautiful work of art. Japanese traditional woodblock printing is considered a world-class form of art and it has a 700 year history. This process also went on to have a lot of influence in the works of many artists such as Vincent Van Gogh and Monet from the Impressionistic period, and it is still alive as a major form of artistic expression today.

Two 90-minute "Ukiyo-e printing demonstrations" by the printer (SURI-SHI), Ms. Chiharu Enomoto and the lecturer, Mr. Isamu Adachi (Director and Chairman of the Board of the Adachi Institute of Woodcut Print, Tokyo, Japan) were conducted during 2005 Aki Matsuri. This was such a rare opportunity to observe the printing process of this traditional woodblock printing technique. The famous “Great Wave Off of Kanagawa” by Hokusai Katsushika was used for demonstration.

About "Great Wave Off of Kanagawa"
This work is astonishing for its fantastic composition and powerful brushwork, showing a giant wave crashing over a boat. The low-angle perspective and shaded waves constitute the key to this work which is one of the foremost masterpieces, and most wellknown of all the ukiyo-e landscape compositions.

This picture is ukiyo-e reproduction made by the Adachi Institute of Woodcut Print.
Great Wave Off of Kanagawa

“Great Wave Off of Kanagawa”
From the series Fugaku Sanju-rokkei-
Artist: Hokusai Katsushika

In order to help better understand this beautiful Japanese art, here are some supplementary information.

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What is Ukiyo-e?


Traditional woodcut print making is a composite art from in which the individual, specialist skills of artists, wood cavers and print makers are combined to create a delicate and beautiful work of art known as Ukiyo-e (pictures of the modern world). The world of woodcut printmaking is one of grace and warmth that is not found in any other form of printing. Through the skillful hands of master craftsmen of the Heisei era, this traditional art from has been inherited by lives on in the current age.

Returning to the past, it is notable that it was not the Japanese upper-classes, but rather the common people, who cherised Japanese Ukiyo-e prints and nurtured the development of the woodcut printing techniques necessary to produce them.

The mass production and circulation of woodcut prints underlay the blossoming of Japanese popular culture that occurred during the Edo era (1600-1867). Ukiyo-e prints are widely appreciated both within and outside of Japan. Indeed, woodcut print making techniques are said to have had a strong influence on the European impressionist painters of the 19th century.

Woodcut Printmaking Process & Techniques

The creation of traditional woodcut prints is based on a delicate devision of labor between three craftsmen ... an artist, a wood carver, and a print maker . If one of these craftsmen outshines or underperforms the others then a hight quality print will not be crated. These are artisans who master their own area in an unobtrusive yet dignified manner. It is when their supreme skills are harmonized that a woodcut print, far superior to that which could be produced by any one individual, is created.

The creation of a woodcut print begins with the artist making a hanshita-e (a kind of template drawing to act as a guide for the subsequent printmaking and composed only of black ink lines). The artists puts his heart and soul int every brush stroke and the hanshita-e, which has been created taking the avoidance of waterfulness to its extrmity, is the entrusted to the wood carver. The carver pastes the hanshita onto a wooden block and carves out the wood according to the black ink lines. The artist creates a new hanshita for each color and the wood carver then carves this out on a new block. The artist and wood carver have to liaise closely during this process.

The completed blocks for each color are then delivered to the printmaker amd the creation of the woodcut print nears its climax. The artist trasnmits his image using various methods. The print maker creates complicated combinations with his pigments and manipulates them at will to produced assorted hues. Each artisan respects the other but a succession of breathtaking offences and defenses by each of these stubborn individuals occurs until both are satisfied.

A woodcut print is completed in this way. Essentialy, this is an extremely rare artistic technique in which several people work together to complete a vivid picture of individualistic hues. It is surely fair to say that this is a fine art that Japan can take justifiable pride in.

(Text Courtesy of the Adachi Institute of Woodcut Print)

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Artist's Profile - Hokisai Katsushika (1761-1849)

Hokusai produced his very first print, an actor print in the hosoban format, in 1779 at the age of 19. At the bigining of his carrer, Hokusai concentrated on prints of actors and beautiful women but none of them were very notable. The character of Hokusai can be best described as restless: he changed his name more than twenty times and his place of residence more than ninety times.

This restlessness is also reflected in the variety of his work. Although he was initially a pupil of Shunsho and later Kano Yusen, in his middle-age the artist selfstudied many different styles including Kano, Tosa, Chinese style and Western style. From 1795 to about 1820 he designed numerous surimono (a subcategory of Ukiyo-e), producing same very fine works. Hokusai finally achieved popular success in the 1830s with his publication of "Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji", which was so popular that he later published 10 additional prints making a total set of 46. These additional 10 prints are popularly referred to as "Ura-Fuji" (Fuji viewed from behind).

Hokusai is often described as the artist who brought art of Ukiyo-e landscape prints to perfection and as a painter he is regarded as being among the most important artists of the Edo period (1603-1867) . One senses a certain peasant coarseness in his work, but everything he did has a certain dignity, integrity and unmistakable character. Much of his later work was in the fields of painting and book illustration

(Text Courtesy of Adachi Institute of Woodcut Ptint)

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About Adachi Institute of Woodcut Print

The Adachi Institute prides itself in making reproduction Ukiyo-e prints by employing the same skills, techniques and materials that were used by the original woodcut print makers of the 18th and 19th centuries. A brief outline of the reproduction process is as follows:

1. Exact line reproduction is achieved by using a verified original print from one of the world's major Ukiyo-e collections. The blocks are carved by master engravers to duplicate exactly the same lines as the original print. This engraving requires delicate sensitivity and persistence. Old cherry wood is used for the blocks.

2. Printing is done by hand employing the same processes as were used on the original print. This stage is tedious and painstaking, for each color has to be printed from its own block. As with the originals all prints are made on washi (handmade Japanese paper) and natural dye colors are used.

The Adachi Institute conducts careful research and adheres to the highest standards of Japanese craftsmanship in order to ensure that its reproductions are of the greatest accuracy.

(Text Courtesy of Adachi Institute of Woodcut Ptint)

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