Book Review: “Japan Journeys: Famous Woodblock Prints of Cultural Sights in Japan”

By | July 20, 2015

A few weeks ago I entered in a contest on Haiku Girl’s blog and was lucky enough to win “Japan Journeys: Famous Woodblock Prints of Cultural Sights in Japan”, by Andreas Marks (published by Tuttle Publishing who coordinated with Haiku Girl to run this contest). This book contains around 200 Japanese woodblocks of famous scenic areas in Japan, made by artists such as Utagawa Hiroshige, Katsushika Hokusai, and (one of my favorites) Kawase Hasui.

Although I appreciate many forms of art, I generally find that I can’t really get absorbed into most paintings I come across, and find photographs easier to understand and enjoy. But there is something special about these prints that really touches be – both the unique art styles and places they depict. I remember once I had checked out a massive book from the library about Hasui’s work, but Andreas Marks’s book is conveniently sized (more long than tall) and has a more diverse set of artists and places which allow me to parayomi (browse) through it anytime and find some beautiful artwork.

Some of the works showcased in this book somehow remind me of modern anime artstyles, especially their coloring, and it’s clear that the better anime artists have been influenced by Hiroshige and other greats. If you’ve ever appreciated hand-drawn anime background for it’s own sake, I encourage you to pick up this book. You may find your appreciation for classic Japanese art is more than you expected.

Having only received this book a few days ago, I haven’t read through much of the explanatory text accompanying the images yet, but looking forward to learn a little more about Japan’s history as I go through this book little by little.

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