2nd International Mokuhanga Conference (Part 1)

01 Big Conference Sign

Mokuhanga is a Japanese word that translates to woodblock printmaking.  Today, this term is often used by the international printmaking community when referring specifically to Japanese style water-based woodblock printmaking.  The first International Mokuhanga Conference was held three years ago in the summer of 2011 in Kyoto and Awaji Island in Japan.  Earlier in September, the 2nd International Mokuhanga Conference took place in Tokyo, and it drew over 150 participants from all over the world.

02 Opening Reception

Opening Reception at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum – Welcoming remarks by Karen Kunc

The conference programs and events took place at two venues.  The main program venue was the Tokyo University of the Arts or Geidai, and the satellite program venue was 3331 Arts Chiyoda.  Both venues are located near Ueno park, a popular destination for the locals, and home to a number of major art museums such as the Tokyo National Museum, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, the National Museum of Western Art, and the Ueno Royal Museum.  The Ueno Royal Museum had just opened an exhibition of Hokusai’s works from the MFA Boston’s collection, which coincided nicely with the mokuhanga conference.


Both the main program and the satellite program offered an abundance of diverse and interesting presentations, demonstrations, events, exhibitions, and gatherings during the short five-day period.  Overall, the conference proved that there is a great deal of interest and passion for mokuhanga in the international printmaking community, and a re-energized enthusiasm among the Japanese artists and traditional craftspeople, such as papermakers, carvers, and printers.


This post (part 1) will focus on programs that took place on Geidai campus, which included demonstrations, workshops, paper presentations, an open portfolio, and some exhibitions.


The first demonstration that I went to was by Makoto Nakayama, who is a printer at Sato Mokuhanga Studio in Kyoto.  He demonstrated the traditional Kyoto style of printing on fan-shaped papers that have a layer of gold leaf glued on top.  Mr. Nakayama repeatedly printed the same block over and over again, each time blotting the excess pigment from the printed surface.  In this way, he was able to achieve a luxurious layer of water-based pigment printed on top of a not-so-absorbent gold leave surface.

Nakayama Demo 01

Nakayama Demo 02

Nakayama Demo 03

Nakayama Demo 04

Nakayama Demo 05

Nakayama Demo 06


Another printing demonstration offered an example of a collaboration between a contemporary artist, Meo Saito (artist and professor at Geidai) and a Tokyo-based traditional printer and publisher of woodblock prints, Takahashi Kobo (Takahashi Studio).

Takahashi Demo 06

Takahashi Demo 04

Takahashi Demo 05

This demonstration included a short but informative introduction to woodblock printing history in Japan, and the presenter even gave a delightful demonstration of blowing into a glass whistle similar to the one depicted in Utamaro’s print, Poppen o fuku musume (Young woman blowing glass whistle).

Takahashi Demo 01

Takahashi Demo 07


Although I was not able attend, there were a couple of workshops, including one given by the Awagami Factory.  Awagami Factory had brought their portable paper making set up and participants tried their hand at making paper using the traditional Nagashizuki method.

Awagami Workshop


About 35 artists participated in the Open Portfolio Exhibition, which was set up in the Plaster Casts Gallery at the Tokyo University of the Arts.  Below are just a few artists’ tables that I managed to take photos of.

Open Portfolio 01

Open Portfolio 02

Open Portfolio 03

Katsutoshi Yuasa (Japan)

Open Portfolio 04

Katsutoshi Yuasa

Open Portfolio 05

Katsutoshi Yuasa

Open Portfolio 06

Hiroki Morinoue (USA)

Open Portfolio 07

Laura Boswell (UK)

Open Portfolio 08

Elettra Gorni (Italy)

Open Portfolio 09

Yuki Kashiwagi (Japan)

Open Portfolio 10

Karen Kunc (USA)

Open Portfolio 11

Eva Pietzcher (Germany)

Open Portfolio 12

Mia O (Korea)

Open Porfolio 13

Hellohollow Printsland Studio (Hong Kong)


A total of 37 different paper presentations were made with subjects as diverse as the over 40 presenters that gave them.  The range of topics discussed included the history and philosophy of mokuhanga and Ukiyo-e prints, community engagement, mokuhanga techniques, collaborations, teaching, and the artwork of the presenters.  A short description of each presenter’s topic can be read via this link.  (pdf)

Presentations 05


Finally (at least, for part 1 of this post), Group Project “The Content” featured unique group exhibitions that presented new approaches to materials, techniques, and methods in mokuhanga.  These were exhibited in the Art Space Gallery at the Tokyo University of the Arts.

The Content 01

“Snow – International Mokuhanga Print Portfolio, Nagasawa 14”

The Content 02

Haruka Furusaka (Japan)

The Content 03

Dariusz Kaca (Poland)

The Content 04

Michael Reed (New Zealand)

The Content 05

Hiroki Satake (Japan)

The Content 06

Awagami Factory presented their research on different kinds of Washi (Japanese paper) and sizing (Dosa). This shows multiple impressions of Hokusai’s “The Great Wave” on different washi made from six paper-producing regions in Japan

The Content 07

“Wood+Paper+Box” by Katie Baldwin, Mariko Jesse, Yoonmi Nam

The Content 08

“Wood+Paper+Box” by Katie Baldwin, Mariko Jesse, Yoonmi Nam (detail)

The Content 09

“Shifting” by Libby Hague and Rochelle Rubinstein


In addition to these exhibitions, there were a few more excellent exhibitions on the Geidai campus, organized as part of the conference.  “Mokuhan Zomeki: What happened in Japan?”, an exhibition at the Geidai University Art Museum, presented a concise survey of Japanese woodcut printing history that included prints and objects in the collection as well as a selection of works made by current international mokuhanga artists.  Two juried exhibitions, “International Mokuhanga Exhibition 2014″ and “Artist Book Exhibition Mokuhan-Ehon”, offered nice presentations of works made by contemporary mokuhanga artists.  Unfortunately, these exhibitions did not allow taking photographs, but you can see some photos from these shows, as well as additional photos from the conference at the IMC (International Mokuhanga Conference) Board Facebook Page here.


Continue to “2nd International Mokuhanga Conference (Part 2)”



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Categories: Critical Discourse, Exhibitions

8 Responses to “2nd International Mokuhanga Conference (Part 1)”

  1. Michael Reed says:

    Hi Yoonmi, Great job on this. I keep wishing I was still back in Tokyo to see it all. Thank you, Michael

  2. Dariusz Kaca says:

    Dear Yoonmi, very good report, text and photo selection. I’m really imprest!
    Thank you, Dariusz

  3. Michael Durgin says:

    Thanks for this write-up, Yoonmi. It serves to remind those of us who were there of some of the great information and artwork shared , and gives a nice overview for those who couldn’t make it.

  4. Thanx you for sharing !

  5. Hi Yoonmi, that’s great report! Very nice to look back the conference. Hope to see you again soon. Katsu

  6. Dear Yoonmi,
    Thank you so much for sharing : ) !!

  7. […] at the University of Kansas, wrote an excellent summary of the conference and posted it in Printeresting.  Click links to read and see her super photos of the art and the artists at the […]

  8. Terry says:

    Great report and photos, thanks Yoonmi!