Exhibition at the Embassy of Japan

Artists in a Floating World
Edo Woodblock Printing in the 21st century

5 November - 7 December 2015

Open weekdays 09:30 - 17:30, closed weekends
Admission is free, but photo ID is necessary to gain entry to the Embassy.

The Embassy of Japan, 101-104 Piccadilly, London W1J 7JT

NOTE: The opening hours of the exhibition room will be changed to 9:30am - 12:45pm on the following dates: Wednesday 25 November, Thursday 3 and 10 December. Thank you for your understanding.

The Embassy of Japan hosts an exhibition of Japanese woodblock prints, a designated craft tradition in Tokyo, made by highly skilled craftspeople of the Tokyo Traditional Woodblock Print Association.

During the Edo period (1603 – 1868 CE) prints of everyday life were mass-produced for popular consumption in Japan’s newly flourishing urban centres. They were from a genre, which also include paintings and drawings, called ukiyo-e 浮世絵, or ‘pictures of the floating world’, and are some of the most remarkable achievements of graphic art in Japan, if not the world. These prints would have been sold for little more than the price of a bowl noodles and included themes of well-known landscapes, famous beauties and popular actors and heroes of fiction and the wrestling ring.

The traditional production system of Japanese ukiyo-e prints involves the work of four people: artist, woodblock cutter, printer and publisher. Each is imbued with a deep sense of responsibility for his or her part in order to make the final outcome a success.

Fine_Wind,_Clear_Morning (Red Fuji) (1830-35) after Katsushika Hokusai by_Tokyo_Traditional_Woodblock_Association_craftspeople_(2013)

Works created by craftspeople, who follow this method of printing, from the Tokyo Traditional Woodblock Print Association are displayed against those from the heyday of the ukiyo-e prints in Japan in the nineteenth century through to the delicate paint-like qualities of artists from of the Shin Hanga movement of the first decades of the twentieth century.


Discover how these prints are made in Japan today and experience for yourself how the nineteenth-century Japanese artists’ approach to line, colour and form became such an inspiration for artists in Europe.

Toshusai Sharaku (1794)
Matsumoto Koshiro IV as fish seller Sakanaya Gorobei

Matsumoto Koshiro IV as fish seller Sakanaya Gorobei (1794)
after Toshusai Sharaku
by Tokyo Traditional Woodblock Association craftspeople (1975)

This exhibition is organised by the Embassy of Japan and the Tokyo Traditional Woodblock Print Association, is supported by the Japanese Gallery and is a part of Asian Art in London 2015.