Here at the Tokyo National Museum, you can get in touch with Japanese culture through items created and treasured by people long ago, known as “cultural properties.” The Family Gallery “Japanese Culture Unlocked: Armor, Kimonos, Lacquerware, and Woodblock Printing” is an interactive exhibition that allows you to experience the appeal and joy of cultural properties with four different themes: “ukiyo-e woodblock prints,” “armor,” “kimonos,” and “lacquerware.”
Ukiyo-e refers to paintings and prints depicting people and daily life during Japan’s Edo period (17th to 19th century). In the early Edo period (17th century), these consisted exclusively of original works hand-painted by the artist himself, but the development of ukiyo-e prints later allowed the same painting to be printed countless times. A multicolored printing technique called nishiki-e also emerged in which different woodblocks for each color were printed in sequence, making it possible to produce brilliant colors. At first, nishiki-e prints mainly depicted popular beauties and kabuki actors, but they eventually came to encompass various genres such as stories and landscapes.
Here you can learn how the woodblock prints were made. Try creating your own ukiyo-e woodblock print with a series of stamps!
How ukiyo-e Prints Are Made: Production process model of The Actor Ōtani Oniji Ⅲ as the Servant Edobei (Production process model by: The Adachi Foundation)