Here you have the three kanji characters making up the word mokuhankan. The first is ki, the character for 'tree' - pronounced also moku. The second is ita, with a basic meaning of 'board' (or 'plate' as in 'printing plate'), also pronounced han. These two, if combined with the character for 'picture' ga, form the word moku hanga which thus literally means 'wooden plate picture', a perfect description of the object.

Here though, the two characters are combined with kan, which our dictionaries tell us carries the meanings of 'mansion' or 'hall', and which in practice is a character appearing at the end of a compound word indicating the place associated with the object/action. Appearing after tosho (books) it tells us that this is a library (toshokan). After bijutsu (arts), it signifies a museum or gallery (bijutsukan). So coming after mokuhan, it will imply that this is the place where we will find woodblocks!

Coming up with an English phrase that captures the same nuance isn't easy, so let's leave it at that - welcome to Mokuhankan!

The Concept

Mokuhankan is a woodblock print publishing venture established by myself - Tokyo printmaker David Bull. Over on my website, I display and distribute the woodblock prints that come off my own carving and printing benches; the prints you will see here on Mokuhankan have a different origin - other craftsmen will be involved in the carving and printing (although I too, will be joining the production crew on occasion).

I will select the prints, I will hire the craftsmen, I will organize the sales/distribution and the events, and most importantly - I will set the standards by which this organization will operate, and that ... is where the story lies.

(I should warn you though, this is a kind of 'hobby horse' for me; and once I climb onto it, I might go on a bit ... So I've prepared two versions ...)

You might like to read the full story. Or you can stick with the reasonable version. :-)