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japanese woodblock print of Kyoto on New Years Day

Kyoto on New Years Day
Eiichi Kotozuka (ca. 1950-1975)

Japanese woodblock prints

The art of woodblock printing or Ukiyo-e goes back a long way in Japan. The oldest prints are buddist texts and illustrations. From the 17th century onwards woodblock prints of courtisanes of the Yoshiwara and Kabuki actors were published. The genre developed further during the 18th century reaching its artistic peak in the late 18th–early 19th century. This period is called the golden age of woodblock printing.
Artist such as Kiyonaga, Utamaro, Sharaku, Hokusai and Hiroshige are among the most famous artists from that period. The first two specialised in depictions of beautiful women (bijinga), Sharaku is famous for his actor portraits. Hokusai and Hiroshige produced fine landscape prints and depictions of flowers and birds.
The Meiji period brought big changes to Japan and woodblock printing changed too. New pigments were introduced and new styles developed.
The late 19th–early 20th century saw a strong revival of woodblock printing with artists such as Kiyoshi, Kotondo, Shunsui and Koson.
Woodblock printing still is an often used artistic medium not only in Japan but also in other countries.

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japanese woodblock print of Gion in Kyoto, painted by Saito Kiyoshi

Gion in Kyoto
Saito Kiyoshi