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Japanese Woodblock Print Search (ukiyo-e.org)
121 points by stareatgoats on Oct 31, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 29 comments

Uh - woah! This is incredibly unexpected. I'm really glad people are interested in my database and in Japanese prints!

From a technical perspective there've been a lot of interesting open source projects that I've made to support this site: https://johnresig.com/projects/ukiyoe/

I've also written a number of papers and given presentations on the work that I've done here (and elsewhere in the digital humanities). https://johnresig.com/research/

This is a talk that I gave in 2014 about the construction of the site and my reasons for building it: https://codeascraft.com/speakers/john-resig-analyzing-japane...

I've since worked on a number of other projects like a database for a consortium of Art History Photo Archives: http://images.pharosartresearch.org/

And I'm building another one now on Japanese Picture Books (from the 19th century and older).

These are all my "spare time" fun hobby projects, my day job is still at Khan Academy as a Frontend Architect. I just enjoy getting to explore other types of applications and problem spaces!

Happy to answer any questions anyone might have!

Amazing site.

I've recently fallen in love with the more modern ukiyo-e artists like Kawase Hasui: https://ukiyo-e.org/artist/kawase-hasui

Look at the shadows from the leaves of the unseen trees here: https://data.ukiyo-e.org/mak/images/13612-6.jpg

Now I can explore to my heart's content....

I found this to be an incredible resource, not only for Japanese prints (a relatively new but definitely cool acquaintance) but also for the various open source technologies used.

Especially interesting to me is the https://github.com/mongaku/mongaku library for image searching. Haven't used it in a project yet, but expect I will. Thanks for this (and the other amazing things of immeasurable impact like jQuery you authored)!

This is an amazing site! I haven't really gotten into ukiyo-e but this is so great for exploration and discovery. I think there are a lot of other genres/topics as well that I would love to have a site like this.

I appreciate the work put into making the site light and responsive, even with so many images. And I find the mouseover functionality really neat, too - even if it's not the most practical way to view hundreds (or thousands!) of works at a time, it's completely mesmerizing.

It’s mesmerizing. I have to avoid going to that site as I know I’ll lose hours. Top work John!

It's by jQuery creator John Resig: https://ukiyo-e.org/about

An interesting part of this project was dealing with artist names. John has done a very good job normalizing all of this data in a graph which can allow others to discover related works and even merge otherwise distinct aliases.

A subset of this problem emerges from the transliteration of name kanji. Romaji is not always handled consistently, especially in historical contexts, and name characters have their own rough history around digitization of han character code points.

One of the first steps was to adopt name indexes to help with normalization but beyond some of those databases, it's been very interesting to see the graph analysis approach work with a combination of computer vision technology and carefully crafted apps to help archivists and researchers in these communities work together to combine their own data. This is a great example of what technology can do for a community if the intersection between people and technology is done well.

This is an incredible site that is invaluable for anyone involved in woodblocks. Japanese woodblocks are also a great way to get into art. You can get the same exact prints that are shown in museums for $100+.

Where do you recommend starting? Both in regards to getting educated, but also practically acquiring prints.

David Bull has a great youtube channel about japanese woodblock printmaking that I highly reccomend.


Been on the internet so long he has a great domain name: http://woodblock.com

I’ve bought many pieces over the years from David. He has slowed down a bit with his personal carving as he has gotten older but has taken up training a new generation of artists which is very admirable.

Thanks for this link - I've been immensely enjoying these videos and it's definitely perked up my passion for continuing my printing adventures.

So happy to see this mentioned here. I was able to visit David's workshop last time I was in Tokyo. Great guy and a great artist. Really love the prints I've bought from him over the years.

David Bull also sells prints at reasonable prices.


The site is kinda hard to navigate. He did a reprint of The Great Wave that I want to get.

I have that. It's lovely. My wife and I also did an 18 month subscription to an 18 print series he did covering the history of Japanese printmaking.

That sounds lovely.

I recommend https://www.adachi-hanga.com/ukiyo-e-en/ What they sell are not poster prints, they are made the old fashioned way: https://www.adachi-hanga.com/ukiyo-e-en/quality/index_en.htm...

Artelino.com is one of the best sites to purchase at (recommended to me by the creator of ukiyo-e.org).

I got into woodblock prints just because I happened to see a great exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art. Before that they all sort of looked the same to me.

Browse the artelino listings and find stuff that you like. Values for woodblocks tend to not really go up or down, so buy them just because you like looking at them.

The value of everything tends to not go up or down...until it does. I think woodblocks have a potentially larger market due to their relationship to anime and other parts of Japanese culture and past. I have a watercolor done by an artist who colored woodblock prints. He painted it in occupied China in “service” with an occupying Japanese force during WWII. Out of protest, he painted the landscape instead of the Japanese forces. I don’t know whether it’s monetery value will go up, but interest in the world wars has.

I love that site. Glad to see it and woodblocks mentioned here.

If you're in Seattle, (or don't mind buying online) check out https://www.davidsongalleries.com.

This site identified a print that's been in my wife's family for over 80 years. Very cool, thanks.

If you're into woodblock art, check out Tom Killion in Marin.


Thanks for sharing that, those prints are wonderful. I also love the work of William H Hays:


Would love to learn about more artists

Gorgeous. Thanks for sharing his work.

I was super inspired by this when it first came out. I considered doing one for paintings/painters then realized how much effort it would require. I love sites like this...the passion John has for the woodblocks shines through the site.

How can I make a woodblock print at home

How can I make one at home?

It’s pretty easy to get a simple setup to do single color prints at your local arts and craft store. Speedball brand sells the ink and press and various other bits and bobs. You can either carve in linoleum which is softer and easier but less precise, or in wood. We’ve done Christmas card this way a couple of times and the results have been great if a little “rustic”.

OTOH, doing multi block, perfectly aligned woodblock prints like the ones in the link is quite difficult. There’s no shortcut, you have to carve each color block by hand.

Great! Thank you.

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