10 Most Beautiful Japanese Art Prints

November 01, 2023 1 Comment

10 Most Beautiful Japanese Art Prints

The Mesmerising World of Japanese Art Prints

You can't talk about Japanese art prints without first giving a nod to the astonishing beauty they encapsulate. Often a delicate dance between tradition and artistry, these prints offer a glimpse into the culture of Japan in ways no other art form can.

So today, let's explore the top 10 most beautiful Japanese art prints that have captured the hearts of art aficionados around the globe.

History of Japanese Art Prints

It's worth mentioning that Japanese art prints, particularly those from the Ukiyo-e genre, have been an iconic part of Japan's cultural tapestry. Born out of the Edo period, these prints are more than just art; they are a narrative on the values, beliefs, and everyday life of the Japanese people.

During the Edo period, a flowering of culture and art was evident. This period saw the rise of Japanese woodblock prints as a form of mass art. More than just visuals to admire, these prints have had an irreplaceable role in Japanese culture and history. The ukiyo-e tradition, for example, depicts subjects from landscapes to beautiful women, all the way to kabuki actors and sumo wrestlers.

The Role of Technique: Woodblock Printing

Japanese woodblock print block being carved

It's impossible to discuss Japanese art prints without mentioning the unique techniques used in their creation.

 

At the forefront is the art of Japanese woodblock printing, where each colour in a print usually requires a separate block. This process has heavily influenced how these prints are made, and it’s the cornerstone of the ukiyo-e art form.

 

 

Counting Down: The 10 Most Beautiful Japanese Art Prints

1. The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai

Ah, where do we even start? This iconic Hokusai print is arguably the most recognisable Japanese art print, and for good reason!

It’s been featured everywhere, from Japanese wall art collections to the front covers of textbooks.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai framed Japanese Art Prints on the wall with brown chair

The Great Wave off Kanagawa stands as a hallmark in the world of Japanese art prints. This piece not only reflects the skill of its artist, Hokusai, but also serves as an iconic representation of Japanese wall art. It’s a classic image that even those who are unfamiliar with Japanese art can instantly recognise.

Often replicated but never duplicated, The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai is the poster child for Japanese wall art. This remarkable piece needs little introduction; its ubiquitous presence says it all. As for Hokusai, the genius behind this masterpiece, his work transcends the norms of Ukiyo-e art, capturing the human experience in a single frame.

Let's talk Hokusai for a moment, shall we? The man was a genius, a legend in the truest sense. He mastered Ukiyo-e art during a time when it was not just a craft but a significant form of expression.

 

2. Poem by Bunya no Asayasu, Artwork by HokusaiPoem by Bunya no Asayasu, artwork by Hokusai Japanese woodblock print

Yet another Hokusai gem, this art piece exudes the kind of serenity only he could portray. Rooted in Japanese folklore and poetry, this Hokusai print speaks volumes without saying a word. 

 

With the inscription: “White dews sparkle over the autumn field where wind sweeps; I expect an instant amid the dew-wet grass.” This print depicts an almost ethereal scene that could only be executed with the kind of skill Hokusai had.

Hokusai had a diverse range of works that contributed significantly to this art form. His other famous prints include "Red Fuji" and "Fine Wind, Clear Morning."

 

 

3. Whirlpools at Naruto - Rokuju Yoshu Meisho Zue by HiroshigeWhirlpools at Naruto framed Japanese Art prints by Hiroshige

Another masterpiece is this entrancing whirlpool art print by Hiroshige.

Considered a marvel in its own right, Hiroshige's creation captures the mystical allure of nature. When you look at this Japanese wave print, you're not just seeing art; you're feeling a moment suspended in time. Hiroshige gave us something that was both visually spellbinding and emotive.

Utagawa Hiroshige was a master in his own right. Known for his series "Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido," Hiroshige brought landscapes to life like no other. His style of art deeply influenced Western artists and continues to be highly regarded today.

 

 

4. Toshogu Shrine by Kawase HasuiKawase hasui 'Toshogo shrine', Japenese Art Prints on the wall

It's hard to discuss Japanese wall art without mentioning Kawase Hasui. His work, like the exquisite "Toshogu Shrine", often features nature and traditional landscapes, frozen in moments that stand the test of time. However, his prints such as this one feature locales that are tranquil yet feature more urban Japanese scenes.

 This shrine-themed art piece by Kawase Hasui offers a sacred peek into Japanese tradition. It's as if you're walking in a serene, other-worldly temple, surrounded by nature’s beauty.

 

There is a lone figure and there has been speculation as to the significance of repeated lone figures in Hasui’s prints. One theory is that they express the artist’s lonely existence

His true skill though, lies in suspending the viewers sense of time. These pieces have the feel of a long ago period of time where life were simpler with a sense of nostalgia which is in stark contrast to the upheaval during his life; the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake which destroyed his workshop, and the war in Japan during his later years. Yet none of this ever shows in his work, and his works are highly sought after by collectors.

5. Taisho Pond at Kamikochi by Kawase Hasui

Taisho Pond at Kamikochi by Kawase Hasui Japanese art prints on the wall with sideboardAnother masterpiece by Kawase Hasui, "Taisho Pond at Kamikochi" is a mood in itself. Imagine walking through an art gallery and feeling the calm wash over you when you see this print. 

Though his subjects were less known locations rendered with naturalistic light, shade, and texture, without the captions and titles that were standard in prints of Hiroshige's age

In 1920, Hasui created his inaugural series of snowfall prints, setting a new standard in the realm of colour woodblock printing.

Reflecting on his early work, he noted that the innovative techniques he employed in carving and form often drew complaints from artisans. Nonetheless, Hasui was skilled enough in carving to know that it was feasible for craftsmen to produce the necessary blocks.

Some of his most captivating snow prints seamlessly blend traditional Japanese styles with Western approaches to lighting and shading. These works stand as modern continuations of Hiroshige's classic prints.

6. Cranes on the Seashore by Ohara KosonOhara Koson cranes on the seashore Japanese Art Print

You can’t talk about Japanese art prints without mentioning Ohara Koson, famous for some of the most recognisable Japanese imagery.

Ohara Koson, renowned for his nature prints, brings an ethereal touch to this art piece featuring cranes, a classic image of his. The cranes stand regal, yet peaceful, providing a unique glimpse into the natural world.

This style of print will add a really sophisticated, gallery-style feel to any room with its subtle hues and neutral feel.

 

 

 

 

7. Seven Cranes by Ogata Korin

'7 cranes' by Korin, black framed Japanese art print against a brick wall

Speaking of cranes, 7 Cranes by Korin is an absolute classic. The number 7 represents multiple layers of meaning in Japanese culture. The cranes, often viewed as auspicious creatures in Japan, take centre stage in this visually stunning print.

 

This bold composition presents a grouping of black and white red-crowned cranes, cranes extending to the left and right across a gold background. It is the work of Ogata Korin, a painter representative of the Edo period who created his own world with innovative compositions and graceful depictions

Ogata Korin was a maverick who challenged the norms of his time. Known for his decorative Rinpa school of painting, his work "Red and White Plum Blossoms" is considered a national treasure in Japan

 

 

8. Moorhens by Soseki Komori

Moorhens by Komori, Japanese art prints on the wall

Soseki Komori’s Moorhens and lotus flower design takes an almost meditative approach to portraying its subject. The gentle strokes and muted colours evoke a sense of stillness and grace. 

The Japanese woodblock prints by Soseki Komori can keep up with prints made by the great kacho-e (images of birds and flowers) artist Ohara Koson. But Soseki Komori is a mystery. No information is available about the artist, not even the year of his birth and death.

 

 

 

 

 

9. Horse Prints by Aoyama

Ayoama horse print in a calligraphic style, shown framed and on a dining room wall

Aoyama's Horse print series give off a vibe that's unmistakably spirited and uniquely Japanese. These prints are a nod to the age-old fascination with equine beauty in the culture.

These captivating equine prints from Aoyama are all about dynamism and spirit. Rooted in Japan's long-standing admiration for horses.

This piece is done in a fluid calligraphic line conveying a real sense of movement. A wonderful use of a limited colour palette, with shades of grey and black against a taupe background

Almost nothing is known about the artist Ayoama Seizan. His known work is a series of horses in “Zen style” in the 1920s and 1930s for the Shima Art Company. 

As an artist who adds a contemporary twist to traditional art forms, Aoyama’s work is refreshing and innovative. He is a perfect example of how modern artists contribute to the ever-evolving landscape of Japanese wall art.

 

10. Ogawa Kazumasa

Breaking away from the traditional woodblock print, we have the mesmerising work of Ogawa Kazumasa, a revolutionary figure in Japanese art. Not merely confined to the woodblock, Kazumasa took a modern approach by fusing his talent in photography, printing, and publishing. In the twilight years of the 19th century, he gifted the world with his book "Some Japanese Flowers" in 1896, a celebration of Japan's flora through the photomechanical printing process.

ogawa kazumasa lotus flower frames Japanese print

One print that particularly stands out is his Lotus Flower. Unlike the vibrant hues usually seen in traditional Japanese art prints, this work presents an ethereal softness, an almost poetic take on the lotus, a flower deeply embedded in Asian spirituality.

The hand-coloured flower collotypes are more than just visual representations; the intricate details and the subtleness of hand-colouring make this piece a stand-alone gem in the realm of Japanese art prints

Through his Lotus Flower print, Kazumasa extends an invitation to pause, reflect, and appreciate the delicate balance between tradition and innovation.

 

With this addition, the gallery of top 10 most beautiful Japanese art prints is now complete.

From the waves of Hokusai to the intricate flowers of Kazumasa, these masterpieces prove that art is the universal language of human emotion. Each print, whether rooted in ancient tradition or blossoming in modern innovation, invites us to step closer, look deeper, and feel more

FAQs: The Questions You Never Knew You Had About Japanese Art Prints

What is Ukiyo-e?

  • Ukiyo-e translates to 'pictures of the floating world,' which aptly sums up the essence of these artworks.

How are Japanese art prints made?

  • Through meticulous woodblock printing techniques, which we should totally appreciate!

Are Japanese prints valuable?

  • The value of Japanese art prints can vary greatly, but yes, they can be quite valuable, especially those from well-known artists or limited editions..

How can I identify an original Japanese art print?

  • An authentic print often comes with a certificate of authenticity, clear details, and is usually printed on high-quality paper.

What is the oldest known Japanese art print?

  • The oldest known prints date back to the Nara period, but it was during the Edo period that the art form truly flourished.

How do i care for original Japanese prints?

  • Proper care can extend the life of your Japanese art prints. From choosing the right frame to avoid direct sunlight, simple steps can go a long way in preservation. A controlled environment with low humidity is crucial for long-term care.

There you have it! A deep dive into the captivating world of Japanese art prints, from the iconic Japanese wave print to the subtleties of the Ukiyo-e genre. Whether you're a fan of Hokusai prints or you’ve just discovered this fascinating world, there’s something for everyone to admire.

With this deep dive, you're now well-equipped to appreciate and perhaps even start your own collection of these timeless masterpieces.


1 Response

John
John

November 07, 2023

Great site. Very informative. Beautiful art.

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