japanese wood block prints


Katsushika Hokusai’s woodblock print The Great Wave off Kanagawa is one of the most famous (if not the most famous) works of Japanese art in existence. However, many are unaware that the piece is actually part of a larger set. 

Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji is Hokusai’s exploration of Fuji and the context around it. Every piece depicts Mount Fuji from a different place within Japan. In The Great Wave, Fuji can be seen in the distance just underneath where the wave is about to crash down. Every piece reveals a little piece of life in Japan - a little piece of Japanese history. Originally, only thirty-six (36) prints were created, but due to their popularity another ten were later added, bringing the total number of prints up to forty-six (46).

The first ten images of the series are above. In order, they are titled:

  1. The Great Wave off Kanagawa
  2. South Wind, Clear Sky (also known as Red Fuji)
  3. Rainstorm Beneath the Summit
  4. Under Mannen Bridge at Fukagawa
  5. Sundai, Edo
  6. Cusion Pine at Aoyama
  7. Senju, Musashi Province
  8. Inume Pass, Kooshuu
  9. Fuji View Field in Owari Province
  10. Ejiri in Surugara Province (my personal favorite!!!)

Nanchohoki  - book depicting various wagashi.

Creator: Namura Johaku

During the Edo period (1603–1868), sweets production expanded and developed.
Edo period documents mention the names of many different sweets.
During tea gatherings, cultivated men were expected to be able to hear the name of a sweet and immediately grasp all the nuances and implications of the name.

Collection of the Tsukuba University Library / NHK Educational


Martin Scorsese’s  Four-story residence in NY.

Photo # 1

The living room.
Original movie posters adorn nearly every wall of the four-story residence of Martin Scorsese, the director of such films as Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980) and The Aviator (2004). N. Brodsky’s 1937 graphic image for La Grande Illusion hangs in the living room.

Photo # 2

The living room.
Scorsese views his collection of 16-mm film on the projector in the living room. The poster for Renoir’s Le Carrosse d’Or is from 1953. On the mantel are 19th-century Japanese stirrups from actor Ken Takakura.

Photo # 3

The desk in the living room.
The research done by Scorsese’s staff for The Age of Innocence (1993) gave the director “a greater feeling for Victorian pieces and antiques,” notes interior designer Karen Houghton. She divided the second-floor living room into two spaces. Above the circa 1850 English desk are 19th-century Japanese wood-block prints from Akira Kurosawa.

Photo # 4

One of the director’s vintage movie posters.
The fantasy of Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête is portrayed in Jean-Denis Malclé’s 1946 poster. Scorsese has been buying vintage movie posters since 1968.

Photo # 5

The dining room.
In the dining room is Bernard Lancy’s poster for Les Enfants du Paradis. “I would never just buy a beautiful poster if I didn’t know the film,” Scorsese says. “It has to be an extraordinary film, with a special meaning for me.” The 1870 dining table is French.

Photo # 6

The rear garden of the townhouse.
The garden is off the dining room. “I’m not much of a gardener,” says Scorsese. “In the tenements I came from we didn’t have much room, although those big basil plants did pretty well on the fire escapes.”

Photography by Durston Saylor


Printmaker & Artist:

Sustai Ulanbaagen

“Hercules and the Cretan Bull”

Hand Pulled Original Print on Japanese Paper

15" x 11" Inches 

Printed on Japanese Kozo Paper (Rice Tone)

“This is a most recently wood block print i made, it shows the scene when Hercules try to capture the Cretan bull, which is one of his 12 hero tasks.
I noticed when I am working on wood, I tend to over define the line work, and also the nature quality of woodcut is very even, plus together there is always a stiffness in my work. So for this image, I tried to keep some rough lines of the original drawing I made, and I drew directly on the panel, didn’t transfer the drawing onto it, so I kept some roughness of drawing instead of well designed neat woodcut line quality.
about the Chinese{or in Japanese Kanji (漢字) which is the same thing basically } title "赫氏扼牛圖”, directly translating will be : the picture of Hercules chocking the bull.“


Asakusa Ryounkaku 浅草凌雲閣 (Cloud-Surpassing Pavilion) building or Juunikai 十二回 (12 floors) - 1890-1923

The Ryounkaku was designed by the Scottish engineer W. K. Burton in the late 1880s. The opening was made in November 11, 1890 - Adjacent to Tokyo Asakusa Park, 46 merchandise stores from around the world were up to the 8th floor, the upper floor was likely an observation room. A lounge was on the eighth floor, and art exhibitions were held on the ninth floor, while the tenth through twelfth were observation decks. From there, all of Tokyo could be seen and on a clear day also Mount Fuji. Many artistic and cultural events were held in the Ryounkaku, including Western music concerts, geisha photograph exhibitions, beauty contests etc. Famous was the store where wood-block prints were made for Sugoroku, a popular Japanese board game. 225 Feet (65 m) height. There was a second floor of a wooden building on the 10th floor on the top the brick part. First building equiped of 2 electric elevators in Japan at this time. The billboard in front of the tower advertised Jintan, a breath mint product still sold in Japan.

It was the first “Tokyo Sky Tree"… After the Great Kanto Earthquake 関東大震災 in September 1, 1923, it was demolished.


“Although I knew that Japanese comics were called manga, I would have said that a comic was a comic no matter what you named it. At Forbidden Planet I slowly began to understand that I was wrong. The first and most obvious difference in Japanese comics is the broadness of subject matter, from saccharine stories featuring little big-eyed girls to the dense and serious works of Osamu Tezuka, although this is not something one discovers in a single Saturday morning. What was immediately obvious was the startlingly graphic nature of manga which, in its clarity of line and dramatic blocky forms, echoed the Japanese wood-block prints of the nineteenth century.”
– Peter Carey, Wrong About Japan