220,000+ Japanese Woodblock Prints Available Online in Growing Database

japanese woodblock prints online archive

“Fine Wind, Clear Weather (Gaifû kaisei), also known as Red Fuji” Katsushika Hokusai. 1830-1831- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

With a long rich history, Japanese woodblock prints are sources of inspiration for everything from tattoos to reimagined video games characters. And while we've already shared how the Library of Congress has made their ukiyo-e available free online, a new database brings together over 220,000 examples of the art form.

Ukiyo-e.org is a digital archive that collates collections from 24 museums, libraries, auction houses, and art dealers around the world. By uniting the individual collections, there are several interesting features that make Ukiyo-e.org a top destination for anyone interested in Japanese printmaking. Aside from the ability to search by institution, artist, and time period, you can also upload an image to see if there are any similar prints in the database. And, once you click on an entry, similar prints in the archive also appear, allowing you to click through and see the differences in color and quality.

These features make the website, which was started by programmer and Khan Academy engineer John Resig, the top entry point for those looking to discover more about Japanese woodblock prints. And while greats of the “golden age” like Hiroshige and Hokusai are well represented, it's fascinating the see the hidden gems available within the vast archive. There are even modern and contemporary prints that demonstrate how the ukiyo-e tradition carries on today.

Ukiyo-e.org is an online database that brings together over 220,000 examples of Japanese woodblock prints from institutions around the world.

free ukiyo-e online japanese woodblock prints

“Kirifuri Waterfall at Kurokami Mountain in Shimotsuke” Katsushika Hokusai. ca. 1832. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

japanese woodblock prints online archive

“Actors Nakamura Fukusuke I as Kasugaya Tokijirô and Iwai Kumesaburô III as Yamanaya Urazato” Utagawa Kunisada. 1857. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

free ukiyo-e online japanese woodblock prints

“Sukeroku the Edo Dandy” Torii Kiyotada I. early 20th century.

Ukiyo-e / Free Japanese Woodblock Prints Database

“Opening Performance in Nichô-machi” Kikugawa Eizan. 1812. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

japanese woodblock prints online archive

“Uchiyamashita, Okayama” Kawase Hasui. 1923. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The online archive allows you to browse different versions of the same woodblock prints from the mid-1700s until today.

japanese woodblock prints online archive

Ukiyo-e.org: Website
h/t: [Open Culture]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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