Starting in the early 1700s and exploding in popularity throughout the 1800s, Japanese woodblock prints depicted the fantastic world of Kabuki actors, courtesans, warriors, and nature. Ever since then keeping track of all of the incredible artwork has been a pain, traipsing between dealer and museum websites, awkwardly shuffling through academic library 'websites', wandering aimlessly through GIS, not to mention all the trouble a patron had to go through to see these before the Internets. Well, The Japanese Woodblock Print Database aggregates prints from a number of museums, dealers, and auction houses into a single resource, searchable by keyword and by image, and thereby provides a shining example of web-accessible art database interface. Enjoy! [via mefi projects] [more inside]
Japanese Prints Online - The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts provides an on-line catalogue for its collection of 18th- and 19th-century Japanese prints, which includes over 600 prints made by Japanese artists between the middle of the 18th century and the turn of the 19th century.
Dance of Darkness (Pt.1, Pt.2, Pt.3, Pt.4) is a documentary about the Japanese art form, Butoh. (Video links are generally NSFW:Nudity) [more inside]
Illustrator Jed Henry and woodblock printmaker David Bull recently collaborated on a set of videogame-inspired woodblock prints in the ukiyo-e style. Just recently funded through Kickstarter, the prints are already underway. There are videos of the creative process here and at the bottom of the first link.
He-Gassen - aka The Japanese Fart Scrolls. More at the Waseda University Library. (Alert: some ribald artsy nudity within)
Japanese woodblock print images | wonderful vintage commercial graphics | the Folk Museum Kawachinagano | old books | ceramics and laquerware from The Digital Archive Project of Osaka which has an interesting online museum to explore with some excellent art and illustrations. [more inside]
Visually sumptuous, Gurafiku is a collection of visual research pertaining to Japanese graphic design. Assembled by the designer abroad; Ryan Hageman. Some of the categories: Ukiyo-e | Illustration | Typography |Manga | 1960's | 1970's | 1980's |1990's. [more inside]
Besuboru Bromides (Japanese Baseball Cards) from the collection of John Gall, as featured at A Journey Round My Skull. Here is an earlier essay by Gall about Japanese baseball cards.
Morisawa Fontpark : View or create amazing art with Japanese characters.
The Incredible Hulk, as told by Koike Kazuo, of Lone Wolf and Cub fame, and Yoshihiro Morifuji. More scans here.
Phase — Mother Earth, a piece created by Mono-ha artist Nobuo Sekine in 1968, has been re-created:
Consisting of a hole dug into the ground, 2.7 metres deep and 2.2 metres in diameter, with the excavated earth compacted into a cylinder of exactly the same dimensions, Phase — Mother Earth was instrumental in the early development of work by the Mono-ha artist group, and has been considered a landmark work in Japanese postwar art history.More about Mono-ha inside. [more inside]
The Tale of the Heike (Heike Monogatari) is a medieval Japanese account of the rise and fall of the Taira clan and has inspired many other works of art. Click on the chapters and scroll down to see Heike illustrations (or start here), see more art or figures inspired by the Heike. Would you rather read? [more inside]
"Pimp my rice paddy." Crop art for aliens, instead of by them.
"Paths are made by walking" as these artists prove by walking in the park for five days. Other projects include knitting a sweater for a giraffe, slowing down a shooting star (to allow for a lengthy wish), sprouting a seed in their hands, globes drawn by memory, and more.
Ukiyo-e, a collection of dreamy, mostly charming, flash animations of Edo period Japanese paintings. Pictures of the floating world (everyday life) by Hokusai, Hiroshige, Utamaro. Encyclopedic list of floating world images on the web. Hokusai sketches in flash. [related]
An illustrated edition of the Ise Monogatari (Wikipedia, review of translation). Yeah, yeah, it's in Japanese, but just keep hitting the forward button (the leftmost of the two on the right, red/brown rather than blue/green) and you'll find lots of pretty pictures. I can't improve on the descriptions by Matt of No-sword, where I found it, so I'll just quote him: "Behold our hero maxin' and relaxin' at his writing-desk, looking like he just got hired as a middle manager at his dad's lighter-flint concern! Thrill to the famous scene where he is visited by the Pineapple of Golden Week Past! Laugh as he is mistaken for a member of Aerosmith! Wonder why everyone is just sitting around smiling contentedly when the building is obviously on fire!"
Geiko of Kyoto is a stunning photo gallery of Kyotos's Geisha - both the mature Geiko and the apprentice Maiko. Melissa Chasse annotates many photos with fascinating details and offers an account of her tea party with Mamechika, a lovely Maiko. For more, this lovely Geisha site offers a brief history from the era of the floating world, more photos, Ukiyo-e art, and links. Also see y2karls' prior definitive post on ukiyo-e.
Delaware 7+h Album and 5+h Exhibi+ion: Too Slow to Live Experimental -- ha, excuse me, experimen+al ar+ and visuals by JAPAnese LUNA+ics DELAware. What made me bring this to your attention? Two delicious bites, Monte Blanc and Walk, Don't Learn. The entire album is available to download if you've become enamored or are generally adventurous. [Flash, Audio, embedded gifs, generally odd]
The Works of Giovanni Battista Piranesi: high-resolution scans of all of Piranesi’s etchings. Also, the plates from Les Ruines De Pompei by François Mazois (1812-38), and, the complete 9-volume Le Antichità di Ercolano Esposte (The Antiquities discovered in Herculaneum) published in Naples from 1755-62. Also, at the same site (UT-PICURE: the Center for Research on Pictorial Cultural Resources, at The University of Tokyo), images from the Stibbert Collection of Japanese costume.
The Murakami Method : hailed as the Japanese Andy Warhol, Takashi Murakami (previously discussed here) lives in his factory wherein he "makes art and sleeps." Murakami spans the artistic spectrum as both a proponent of Japanese otaku culture - the "geek" culture of manga and video games and the author of a PhD dissertation of Nihonga - a style of Japanese painting whose name literally translates to "Japanese painting." Further bridging the gap between "high and low culture," Murakami shows his work in museums and in the Louis Vuitton store in Tokyo.
The Japanese Gallery of Psychiatric Art. Images from Japanese psychiatric medication advertisements: 1956-2003 (via Absent without leave)
Shibori is an amazing Japanese textile dying technique--a very sophisticated form of tie-dye, where nubby, lumpy, bizarre things like this are transformed after dying into this fish or these flowers (scroll for detail) or these starbursts. Specifically this odd thing became this (detail). You can find excellent photos and descriptions of the process here, here(scroll down and hold mouse over photo), and here. There is also information at the World Shibori Network . This photo shows partially dyed fabric and here is a video of the preparation for dying. Shibori is very labor intensive (carpal tunnel syndrome-city) and was a one time subject to a sumptuary tax and one form was outlawed by an emperor for being too extravagant. There are many different knots and ties for different patterns--browse here, here(gallery1-7), and here. Shibori can be used to make some striking and detailed images. Diverse examples of shibori --iris, layered squares, waves, kimonos, large bridge banner, subtle black and white winter scene, , a nifty “aerial view” of earth as a tidal pool with hot air balloons (detail of anemones). Don't miss the stunning work of Hiroko Harada (English/Japanese). I especially like Rain In the Forest, There Are Ripples On the Cloth, Seasonal Changes, and this large installation. You can browse more here, but the Japanese page has more.
Rice Ball Guy is my new favorite superhero. He's like, cool an' stuff. (The link is messed up, but have a go anyway. Really. Rice Ball Guy is cool, I'm tellin' ya.)