夕暮れの日本橋 (Twilight at Nihonbashi)

Designer: Shinji Tsuchimochi | Publisher: Miyakodori Publishing | Date: 2020

Paper size: 25.5cm by 36cm | Enlargement | Currency: $ / £ /

Price: $ 340.00£ 275.00€ 310.00 (includes EMS Shipping & Insurance)

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Description: This design is the second in a new movement in woodblock printmaking. It depicts the most famous location in old Edo - the bridge at Nihonbashi. This was the place from which all measurements of distance were (and still are) taken. Designer Tsuchimochi-san has taken a bit of a liberty with this though, by 'erasing' the freeway that passes above the bridge (jumping both into the past, when there was no such freeway, and into the future another ten years, by which time - planned, anyway - it will be gone).

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Following in the footsteps of Shin-hanga designers of the early 1900s, the young publisher Takashi Kashiwagi has sought to reinvigorate the mokuhanga world with a new concept. He has entitled it 'Reiwa Shin-hanga', taking his cue from the name of the new era that began in 2019 with the accession of a new emperor.

The printer Shun Yamamoto has been working with Mokuhankan now for a few years, doing a wide range of work from such traditional ukiyo-e images as our Great Wave, right through to our modern game character prints.

The carving on this print, though, is an interesting story. In the tradition of publishers of old Shin-hanga prints, who were not afraid to use new technologies to make beautiful prints, Kashiwagi-san has done something new as well. In the early days of the shin-hanga the famous Yoshida family pioneered a method of creating metal key blocks for their complex prints, and nearly all of their work over the years was produced this way - with a metal key block created by photo-mechanical methods from the designer's drawing, paired with cherry blocks for the colours. This system gave them exact replication of the designer's drawn lines, without interpretation by a carver. For these new Reiwa Shin-hanga prints, an updated version of that system has been used, with the outlines being cut by an industrial laser engraver, and the wider clearing being done by hand.

The publisher's name Miyakodori (都鳥 - Bird of the Capital) also has a backstory. Kashiwagi-san's great-grandfather ran a teahouse on the Sumida River in Tokyo, where he also worked as a printer for Ukiyo-e and Shin-hanga prints about a century ago. That teahouse was named Miyakodori, and Kashiwagi-san wanted to invoke the memory of his great-grandfather as he embarks on his own printmaking venture 100 years later.

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Note: there seems to be some confusion in the marketplace - based on unclear wording on some Japanese websites that discuss the Miyakodori prints - that this is a 'limited edition' of only 50 prints. It is not. Miyakodori commissioned Yamamoto-san the printer to do a first batch of 50 sheets, but once those are sold, more will of course be made. None of these prints are numbered in any way.

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The lettering reads: Night Views of Tokyo : Evening at Nihonbashi

The lettering at left is 'Tsuchimochi Shinji'

As always with this designer, he likes to 'hide' small characters here and there in the image ...

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