The Bokujinkai—or ‘People of the Ink’—was a group formed in Kyoto in 1952 by five calligraphers: Morita Shiryū, Inoue Yūichi, Eguchi Sōgen, Nakamura Bokushi, and Sekiya Yoshimichi. The avant-garde movement they launched aspired to raise calligraphy to the same level of international prominence as abstract painting. To this end, the Bokujinkai collaborated with artists from European Art Informel and American Abstract Expressionism, sharing exhibition spaces with them in New York, Paris, Tokyo, and beyond. The first English-language book to focus on the postwar history of Japanese calligraphy, Bokujinkai: Japanese Calligraphy and the Postwar Avant-Garde explains how the Bokujinkai rerouted the trajectory of global abstract art and attuned foreign audiences to calligraphic visualities and narratives.
A Topography of Public Bronze Statuary in Modern Japan
Author: Sven Saaler
In his pioneering study, Men in Metal, Sven Saaler examines Japanese public statuary as a central site of historical memory from its beginnings in the Meiji period through the twenty-first century. Saaler shows how the elites of the modern Japanese nation-state went about constructing an iconography of national heroes to serve their agenda of instilling national (and nationalist) thinking into the masses. Based on a wide range of hitherto untapped primary sources, Saaler combines data-driven quantitative analysis and in-depth case studies to identify the categories and historical figures that dominated public space. Men in Metal also explores the agents behind this visualized form of the politics of memory and introduces historiographical controversies surrounding statue-building in modern Japan.
300 Years of Japanese Design
Editor: Vivian Li
The Kimono in Print: 300 Years of Japanese Design is the first publication dedicated to the examination of the kimono as a major source of inspiration and experimentation in Japanese print culture from the widely circulated woodblock prints and illustrated books of the Edo period (1603–1868) to the modern design books of the Meiji period (1868–1912). Print and book designers from these eras, such as Hishikawa Moronobu and Kamisaka Sekka, profoundly shaped the ever-evolving trends in material culture and fashion, including the popularization of certain styles of dress and even the creation of kimono designs. Five essays by the leading art and social historians Nagasaki Iwao, Ellis Tinios, Matsuba Ryōko, Fujita Kayoko, and Stephanie Su and a catalogue of about seventy works off er insight into the intersection of the worlds of the Japanese print and kimono as well as their social, cultural, and global import.
Tanaka Ryōhei. Etchings of Rural Japan is the first monograph in English dedicated to the life and oeuvre of Tanaka Ryōhei (1933). Mostly self-taught, Tanaka excelled in the medium of etching. He used this technique to depict the scenery of rural Japan and its gradually disappearing thatched-roof farmhouses. Tanaka made no less than 770 etchings and printed the vast majority of the editions himself – a total of well over 100,000 prints, which found their way to many collections, both public and private, all over the world. Over 130 representative works have been selected for this publication. Japan has a long and rich tradition of printmaking. Whereas 18th- to early 20th-century woodblock prints have been the subject of extensive research, postwar printmaking and etching in Japan have received considerably less attention. While focusing on a single artist, this publication aims to shed light on these lesser-known aspects of Japanese print history. Tanaka Ryōhei, Etchings of Rural Japan includes an elaborate introduction to the technique of etching, enabling the reader to understand and admire Tanaka’s skills as an artist-craftsman.
Art Magazines, Artistic Collectives, and the Early Avant-garde
Author: Erin Schoneveld
Shirakaba and Japanese Modernism examines the most significant Japanese art and literary magazine of the early twentieth century, Shirakaba (White Birch, 1910–1923). In this volume Erin Schoneveld explores the fluid relationship that existed between different types of modern visual media, exhibition formats, and artistic practices embraced by the Shirakaba-ha (White Birch Society). Schoneveld provides a new comparative framework for understanding how the avant-garde pursuit of individuality during Japan’s Taishō period stood in opposition to state-sponsored modernism and how this played out in the emerging media of art magazines. This book analyzes key moments in modern Japanese art and intellectual history by focusing on the artists most closely affiliated with Shirakaba, including Takamura Kōtarō, Umehara Ryūzaburō, and Kishida Ryūsei, who selectively engaged with and transformed modernist idioms of individualism and self-expression to create a new artistic style that gave visual form to their own subjective reality. Drawing upon archival research that includes numerous articles, images, and exhibitions reviews from Shirakaba, as well as a complete translation of Yanagi Sōetsu’s seminal essay, “The Revolutionary Artist” ( Kakumei no gaka), Schoneveld demonstrates that, contrary to the received narrative that posits Japanese modernism as merely derivative, the debate around modernism among Japan’s early avant-garde was lively, contested, and self-reflexive.
Wang Yiting’s Art of Exchange with Japan
Author: Walter Davis
Culture in Common explores the transnational history of traditionalist art in modern East Asia through a contextualist account of a Chinese artist’s engagement with Japan. Crossing national and disciplinary divides, Walter Davis illuminates how Wang Yiting (1867-1938) mediated Sino-Japanese cooperation in fields to which he contributed importantly—art, business, philanthropy, and religion—adapting traditional forms of expression to projects and concerns of a modern, international milieu.

Grounded in the Japanese archive, Culture in Common expands our understanding of Wang Yiting’s oeuvre and artistic practices, reveals origins, accomplishments, promises, and limitations of the cross-cultural exchanges he espoused in an era of increasing international tensions, and draws attention to the historical importance and shifting historiographical fortunes of twentieth-century Sino-Japanese visual culture.
The Legend of Giō and Hotoke in Japanese Literature, Theater, Visual Arts, and Cultural Heritage
Dancer, Nun, Ghost, Goddess explores the story of the dancers Giō and Hotoke, which first appeared in the fourteenth-century narrative Tale of the Heike. The story of the two love rivals is one of loss, female solidarity, and Buddhist salvation. Since its first appearance, it has inspired a stream of fiction, theatrical plays, and visual art works. These heroines have become the subjects of lavishly illustrated hand scrolls, ghosts on the noh stage, and Buddhist and Shinto goddesses. Physical monuments have been built to honor their memories; they are emblems of local pride and centerpieces of shared identity. Two beloved characters in the Japanese literary imagination, Giō and Hotoke are also models that have instructed generations of women on how to survive in a male-dominated world.
Yoshijiro Urushibara: A Japanese printmaker in London is a catalogue raisonné of the work of Yoshijiro Urushibara (1889–1953), a Japanese artist and craftsman who lived and worked in London from 1910 to 1940. During his thirty years in Europe, Urushibara produced a considerable number of prints and played a major role in encouraging the production and appreciation of the colour woodcut in the Japanese manner, especially in Britain. Throughout his career Urushibara contributed to cross-cultural interactivity, collaborating with several European artists. His most famous and successful collaboration was with the British artist Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956).
The authors had unique access to the artist’s family archive in Tokyo and recorded and evaluated the extent of Urushibara’s print production. With fully researched catalogue entries, full-colour illustrations, and illuminating biographical and contextual essays, this publication – the first of its kind in the English language - provides a comprehensive account of Urushibara’s life and oeuvre.
Author: Marije Jansen
Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) designed a series of 70 landscapes depicting the provinces of Japan between 1854 and 1856. It was the first of a number of sets from the highly productive years of his later life. The designs comprising Famous places in the 60-odd provinces ( Rokuju yoshu meisho zue) are taken from all corners of Japan. Designs published before this series had already depicted the famous routes between Edo and Kyoto, the Tokaido and the Kisokaido, and various well known locations such as the famous waterfalls, Lake Omi and the Jewel Rivers, but a series on such a grand scale devoted to the provincies was a novelty. It evidently met with critical acclaim as the publishers Koshimuraya Heisuke issued several editions.
In this study, the author Marije Jansen briefly discusses Hiroshige's life and the formal aspects of this series. Jansen takes as her point of departure the set in possession of the German collector Gerhard Pulverer, which is generally acknowledged to be a superb example of a first edition, and compares this series to a number of other sets in public and private collections. The detectable printing variations in each design are carefully analysed, making this an indispensable tool for collectors.
Kuniyoshi The Faithful Samurai is a pioneering publication which deals with the most famous series – the Seichū gishi den (1847-48) and its sequel the Seichū gishin den (1848) – of the forty-seven masterless samurai ( rōnin) by artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861). The true 18th-century tale of revenge by forty-seven rōnin for the death of their lord was enormously popular in Japan: it was dramatised for the Kabuki theatre and its heroes were often depicted in ukiyo-e prints. Kuniyoshi was a master in the genre of warrior prints, and his series expressively portrays these warrior ‘folk heroes’. Dr. Weinberg’s book also includes translations of the texts which appear on the prints and which recount each hero’s exploits. In addition, there are photographs of the relics of the masterless samurai and the ruins of their castle in Akō.