Techniques of UKIYO-E

27991: Shower on Ohashi Bridge at Atake (UTAGAWA Hiroshige)


“Atenashi Bokashi”

This is a technique to create the gradation such as the clouds floating on the sky or the water surface. Just like the normal gradation technique, a printer moistens the woodblock, Hangi, with wet rag and puts the paints on it by Hake. It is able to produce various shapes by moving Hake as if a printer draws those shapes. Hangi remains flat because these shapes for the gradation are not carved on it. This is a high technique that only experienced printers can do, so it is also their chances to show their skills. “Shower on Ohashi Bridge at Atake” is highly evaluated as a representative work of 100 Famous Views of Edo (Meisho Edo Hyakkei) by not only the great ability to compose as Block print but also a technique for printing “Atenashi Bokashi” in the sky represented irregular curves with the carving for the lines of rain.


27993 : Suidobashi Bridge and Surugadai

27997 : Fireworks Display at Ryogoku


“Kira Zuri”

This is a technique to produce effects like a color silver by using mica, mineral powder of hexagonal shape. For “Kira Zuri”, there are three kinds of techniques “Oki Kira”, “Maki Kira”and “Suri Kira”. As a unique character of “100 Famous Views of Edo (Meisho Edo Hyakkei)”, “Kira Zuri” is in heavy usage partially for the dark section among others in the work, unlike “Oki Kira” on the large area such as the background by Utamaro or Sharaku. Mica was printed on the scales on the back of a carp in “Suidoubashi Bridge and Surugadai”, on the other side of river in “Fireworks Display at Ryogoku” and so on. This is a technique “Suri Kira”, slightly different usage of Kira. In these works, “Kira Zuri”was given by mixing Kira into paintings.


27996 :Suijin Woods and Masaki on the Sumida River Banks

27999 :Asakusa Paddy Field and Torinomachimoude



This is a Technique of embossing in order to show the semi-three-dimension by lifting up the surface of paper. It is to crave deeper than usual the part where the artist wants to get effect, to pressure this hollow part by pushing from the back of the paper, and to raise the surface of the picture (printed face). This technique can not be given for the fine lines or for the extremely small area, but this is used for the part where the artist wants to represent the gentle voluminousness.
In these two works, the roundness of the back of a cat and the petals of cherry were raised. “Eri Ita (Block to carve)” is carved deeply to be hollow-ground like a depthless cake molds. The inside is polished by Tokusa to be smooth.
This time, it was raised by tapping the back of the wet paper with a well-used Hake or Brush. There are some theory that this technique was given by the rubber ball, the rubber eraser or the elbow in those days.


27998 : Kanda-Konyacho


“Nunome Zuri”

This is a technique to copy the grain on a paper, and this grain is gotten from the cloth put on the woodblock, Hangi . Just like a embossing technique “Kara Zuri” to print by carving that shape on the woodblock, Hangi, any painting is not applied to it. Because the normal soft cloth cannot be represented the shape, the hard and open weave cloth such as the summer gauze is suitable for “Nunome Zuri”. For the reprint at this time, it was achieved by using “Meibutsu Retsu Takeya-cho”, the reproduced cloth in 200 years ago.
For “Nunome Zuri”, the paintings are not used from the first. It is printed by wetting the paper in order to represent the unevenness shapes of grain on the paper. Difficult to distinguish it when the paper dries, but it was effective in Edo period when the people appreciated Ukiyo-e easily in hand. The piece goods in “Kanda-Konyacho” are represented by “Nunome Zuri” for the cloths of paper.


28000 : Night at Saruwakacho


“Surinuki and Hariawase”

The woodblock print, Ukiyo-e was a thing that the common people enjoyed, so it was very cheap in those days. The publisher, who was creator at the same time, aimed to create more highly-attractive works with a small number of colors and also made all kinds of efforts during the production process. For the method to use effectively the woodblocks, Hangi, there are techniques, "Surinuki” and "Hariawase”.
“Surinuki” : For this work, three color blocks are carved. In case each printing areas are away, several areas of different colors are carved on the same color block this way in order to use one color block effectively. The green area is carved for the partition on the second floor of Morita-za in the right foreground, and the red area is carved for the lantern on the same color block. Unlike “Hariawase”, “Surinuki” is printed with reference to the same mark, “Kento”.
“Hariawase” : For this color block, two different color areas are caved on the same color block with 2 “Kento” on the both side of the woodblock, Hangi. Kimono of a woman attracting customers to Morita-za is carved on the blue area, and the gradation at the head of the short split curtain is carved on the brown area. The blue area is printed with reference to the same “Kento” as the other color block. The brown area is printed with reference to the added “Kento” that is carved newly. In this way, by the ingenuity to carve the different color areas separately on the same color block, the number of woodblocks, Hangi, can be minimized.


"Itame Zuri and Goma Zuri”

A rubbing technique named from the condition of the rubbing completion. “Goma Zuri”is a completion of rubbing that there are uneven print densities at the first glance, as if the sesames are sprinkled when it is finished to rub. The pressure of Baren is impaired.
“Itame Zuri” is rubbed stronger the pressure of Baren than the normal “Tsubushi Zuri”, so the wood grain of the woodblock, Hangi, is represented beautifully. For the first print of “Night at Saruwakacho”, the wood grain is represented clearly in the night sky. For this work, it was made an attempt to print in order to make full use of the wood grain.
For the night sky between “Ten Bokashi” and navy blue“Fuki Bokashi”in the depth, “Itame Zuri” is more effective than “Tsubushi”, to fill the this area with one color. It is natural that the wood grain is varied according to the woodblock, Hangi, so it is different from that for the first print.


28002 : Kinryuzan Sensoji Temple


“Kara Zuri”


A embossing technique to make the colorless unevenness on the paper. Without painting on the woodblock, Hangi, by rubbing stronger than usual with a harsh twisted thread Baren, the carved shape on the woodblock, Hangi, is copied on the paper. This is a unique technique of Ukiyo-e. You can not distinguished it at a distance, but if you pick up this work and look closely at it, you can enjoy the effect.