Collection: Woodblock Prints

Traditionally, a publisher would commission an artist to produce paintings and choose colours for prints to be made. 

The publisher would then commission a woodblock carver to carve the painting in woodblocks usually made from Sakura (cherry wood). 

Finally, a printer would be commissioned by the publisher to print the illustration using pigments and the carved woodblocks.

The publisher became the sole owner of the printing rights but could sell these rights if desired. Rights to an illustration expire in Japan seventy years after the artist’s death, as is evident from the prolific use of ukiyo-e illustrations in merchandise today.

After Japan opened its borders to international trade in 1853, new printing technologies entered the country and the demand for woodblock prints slowly decreased. As a result, Japanese publishers focused on new genres and formats like manga, magazines, and books printed with movable type. The number of woodblock craftspeople also slowly decreased, as they were no longer able to make a living. Luckily, there was still a small group of dedicated woodblock craftspeople who cherished the craft of woodblock printing and passed the skills on to new generations.

Sekioka Woodblock Printing Studio

Sekioka Mokuhanga Studio was founded in Kojimacho, Asakusa, by Sentaro Sekioka, the first generation "Senrei" of the Nihonbashi Ishimacho Matsumura family of woodblock printers. The Sekioka printing studio has been in business since the Edo period, with Nobuto Ogawa being currently in charge of the studio and woodblock printing.

While continuing to use traditional techniques associated with woodblock printing and continuing to produce ukiyo-e prints, the studio strives to promote the beauty and craftsmanship of woodblock printing to as many people as possible through creative activities and workshops.

These new efforts are produced in collaboration with contemporary artists who are aiming to create new forms of expression while preserving the traditional division of labor between the artist, engraver, and printer typical of woodblock printing.