EXHIBITION in Tokyo : Hokusai’s Book World

- An Unknown Domain of Woodblock Printed Books


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)

Website: https://hokusai-museum.jp/BookWorldEN/

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.


▶ 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/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HokusaiMuseum

FB: https://www.facebook.com/THE.SUMIDA.HOKUSAI.MUSEUM/


*Requests of visitors for cooperation on COVID-19 infection Prevention.

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





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Sandara Gasumi, The Sumida Hokusai Museum

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Sketches by Hokusai, Vol. 8, The Sumida Hokusai Museum

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Tale of the Craftsman from Hida, The Sumida Hokusai Museum

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Wrapper for Sketches by Hokusai, Vol.10, The Sumida Hokusai Museum

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