Essays and Videos

This section contains illustrated, peer-reviewed essays written by scholars in the fields of Japanese art, history, and book production and publication. Researchers can easily take “notes” in the margins, compare images, and refer to endnotes. Video essays present engaging discussions on connoisseurship, demonstrations of woodblock printing techniques, contemporary responses to Hokusai and manga, and an interview with Dr. Gerhard Pulverer. More essays and videos will be added as the site develops over time.

Kaneko Takaaki

This essay outlines aspects of the printing blocks used in the producion of woodblock-printed books, which have often been neglected in discussions of print and publishing culture during the Edo and Meiji periods.

Suzuki Jun

The Pulverer Collection is regarded as one of the finest collections of Japanese illustrated books in the world. This essay discusses the range and quality of the collection, as well as individual masterworks, within the larger context of the genre.

Matthi Forrer

Most designers in the ukiyo-e tradition of Japanese woodblock prints also illustrated books. In fact, many started their careers as illustrators of books, primarily novels, and Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) was no exception.

Matthi Forrer

The distribution of traditional Japanese printed books to Europe and the United States began before the opening of Japan to the world in 1854 and occurred in three stages.

Ellis Tinios

Most of Katsushika Hokusai’s books were offered for sale in a highly competitive market. The driving force behind production was the publisher.

Ann Yonemura

Book publishing emerged as a commercial enterprise in Kyoto early in the Edo period. This expansion in the publication and dissemination of printed books coincided with a cultural renascence in Japan.

Video Essays

Keiji Shinohara

Master printmaker Keiji Shinohara demonstrates the tools and techniques of making a woodblock print.

Keiji Shinohara

Keiji Shinohara, a master printmaker, provides insight into the effects of embossing, color gradation, and applying mica.

James Ulak, Keiji Shinohara

Curator Jim Ulak and printmaker Keiji Shinohara examine line and printing quality in seventeenth-century books with images by Masanobu, Harunobu, Utamaro, and others.

James Ulak, Keiji Shinohara

Nineteenth-century Rimpa prints by Korin, Tessai, Sekka, Gyokunen, and Jun’ichiro are closely examined by curator Jim Ulak and printmaker Keiji Shinohara.

Gerhard Pulverer, Ellis Tinios

Gerhard Pulverer discusses his exceptional collection of pre-modern Japanese books and prints in an in-depth interview with Ellis Tinios.

Ed Koren

New Yorker cartoonist Ed Koren appreciates Hokusai’s drawing technique and sense of “human comedy,” and then demonstrates his own process for creating a cartoon. 

Matt Alt

Author Matt Alt looks at the origins of Japanese popular culture, particularly how today’s graphic novels relate to anime and the manga of Hokusai.