Welcome to the world of woodblock printed books!
The Sumida Hokusai Museum in Tokyo will hold a special exhibition. The word ukiyo-e probably calls to mind, in most cases, single-sheet prints, as in the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. Their origin lay, however, in woodblocks carved with text and illustrations, then printed and bound as woodblock-printed books. Prints that were only pictures then developed from those books as an independent art form. Hokusai himself produced the illustrations for many of those woodblock-printed books. This exhibition focuses on those books and explores their fascination in four sections.
Hokusai’s Book World - An Unknown Domain of Woodblock Printed Books
Term: September 21 - November 27, 2022
First-term: September 21- October 23
Second-term: October 25 - November 27
Closed: Every Monday or the following day if it is a national holiday.
* Open: Mon/holiday,Oct 10 * Close: Tue, Oct 11
Hours: 9:30-17:30 (last admission 17:00)
Organizers: Sumida City, The Sumida Hokusai Museum
■ Exhibition Overview
Hokusai not only created single-sheet polychrome prints but also produced pictures for woodblockprinted books. The many books by Hokusai they were published included those in which he illustrated a story as well as his drawing manuals, with collections of his own drawings. Looking at these books, the drawing styles and other techniques that Hokusai and his students devised for these books capture our attention. Moreover, because these books were hand made, even books with the same title differed, depending on the printing, to dive deeper into the world of the woodblock-printed book.
▶ Illustrated drawing manuals
▶ This book is extremely rare.
Most woodblock-printed books were produced in black and white, printed in black sumi ink, but some were printed in color, like polychrome, nishiki-e, prints. This book is extremely rare, with only a few copies extant, and is being displayed by our museum for the first time.
▶ Wrapper (Fukuro)
Fukuro: A piece of paper, joined at the sides but open at the top and bottom to form a tube. It was the wrapper in which a book was inserted when it went on sale. Some beautiful examples were also illustrated. Because the wrapper would be separated from the book, however, few survive, and extant examples are invaluable.
▶ In the later printing, dream or reality?
The first printing, the husbands in her dream are shown against a deep black background, contrasting with the princess in the real world. In the later printing, the printing with deep black ink has been eliminated, so that we cannot tell where the dividing line between dream and reality is.
▶ Books like a picture scroll
What is remarkable is that the pictures on each of the pages connect, as in a picture scroll. In this exhibition, we display pages from three copies of the first volume, lining them up to show the flow of the images.
▶ Katsushika Hokusai
Japanese Ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) was born in Sumida, Tokyo. It is said that Hokusai moved more than 90 times during his 90-year life, spending most of his lifetime in Sumida, and left many works depicting the scenery of Sumida, including Ryogoku Bridge, Mimeguri Shrine, and Ushijima Shrine. He vividly captured life in the Edo Period and is best known for the series “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” which includes representative Japan’s most iconic artwork “Under the Wave off Kanagawa", known internationally as The Great wave. His fascinating life and varied works spanning more than 70 years are more highly regarded today than ever, 160 years after his death. Today, he and his works are in the limelight as one of the most acclaimed artists in the world.
▶ Museum information
The Sumida Hokusai Museum
Open:9:30-17:30（Last admission 17:00）
Close:Every Monday The following day if it is a national holiday. New year holiday.
Address:2-7-2 Kamezawa, Sumida-ku,Tokyo,130-0014
Web site: https://hokusai-museum.jp/
Please check the Sumida Hokusai Museum official website for details before visiting.
Visitor Guidelines: https://hokusai-museum.jp/modules/Topic/topics/view/961?lang=en