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]
The Great Wave off Kanagawa is probably the most iconic Japanese artwork in history, often used to illustrate tsunamis, and scientists have attempted to analyze what kind of wave it depicts. The woodprint is part of the 36 Views of Mount Fuji series, which depicts the famous mountain from different spots in Japan. The artist who made the Great Wave, Katsushika Hokusai, created thousands of images, many of which can be viewed online, such as in the internet galleries of the Museum of Fine Art and Visipix (Visipix' Hokusai page). Besides woodprints, Hokusai produced sketchbooks he called manga, one of which, number twelve, can be flipped through on the Swedish Touch and Turn website.
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.
Nyanto mo Neko Darake (Cats of Many Varieties) is an exhibition in Kyoto featuring charming Edo-period (19th century) woodblock images of cats: playful cats forming themselves into the Japanese word for "blowfish," giant monster heads and skulls made of intertwining cats, ghost cats seeking vengeance. [more inside]
Viewing Japanese Prints is an encyclopedia of Floating World art (or ukiyo-e) and related genres. It has lots of images to go with the articles. Once you've gone through the site and familiarized yourself with pre-modern Japanese printmaking you might want to browse through the humongous image archive of Tokyo Metropolitan Library. Here are a few images that caught my eye: musicians attempt to keep a lady entertained, samurai pirate jumps into the water, crazed sea-captain wields very big axe, two samurais in combat, elfin man watches split-tailed cat dance while a giant feline stares angrily and giant toad belches up samurai while another samurai fights a gigantic fish and a third samurai observes the action from the banks of a river.
Japanese Bicycle History Research Club With a nice gallery of photos, illustrations, and ukiyo-e of vintage bicycles in Japan.
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.
japanese wood-block masters, flash-enabled gallery.
The Kunisada Project, dedicated to one of the greatest ukiyo-e artists.
After Hours Backstage at the Puppet Theater, A Japanese Abominable Snowman, The Famous Samurai: Miyamoto Musashi, Incomparable Woman Warrior and Gingerly Avoiding A Fishy Mess--images from from The Library of Congress's The Floating World of Ukiyo-e: Shadows, Dreams, and Substance . Also, may I present UKIYO-E - The Pictures of the Floating World.
Floating World, you ask?
Floating World, you ask?