Woodblock printing first appeared 1800 years ago in China, and the oldest fragments preserved are drawings on silk, in 3 colors. In Japan, the first books printed with this technique were brought from China during the 8th century, and for hundreds of years, woodblock printing was used exclusively inside temples, for sutras, mandalas and Buddhist images. At the end of the Sengoku period, it was replaced by a more advanced method, the movable type printing press, brought to Japan by the Western monks arriving in Nagasaki.
However, woodblock printing came back during the Edo Period, when ukiyo-e, “pictures of the floating world", became hugely popular trend. Representing geisha, kabuki actors, sumo wrestlers, historical moments, landscapes and even erotic scenes, ukiyo-e were relatively cheap and, enjoyed especially by the merchant class, were widely circulating in the Edo society.
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: