Ukiyoe Small Museum - Kyoto December 2015 by Daniel Whiston

Back in December 2015 I was finally able to fulfill one of my life long dreams to travel around Japan. Towards the end of our trip we spent several days in the beautiful and historic city of Kyoto where we visited many of the tourist heavy temples, shrines and traditional shopping areas that can take up your whole trip just to get around but as we walked back to our hotel I noticed a small sign written in English in the distance along a quiet looking residential street which we decided to investigate.

The sign (originally written in Japanese but translated into English by a tourist back in 2003) was for a Ukiyoe museum, Ukiyoe is a traditional Japanese painting style that uses carved wooden blocks to print with and recreate works. Luckily for us the owner hadn't yet had enough for the day and the museum was still open.

The owner of the museum is Ichimura Mamoru. He is one of around 50 artists of this kind left in Japan and started his training at the age of 14 learning from his grandfather as well as other artists in his grandfathers atelier where he started with simple designs such as food packaging. It was very interesting to spend time speaking with him and viewing his work as it was being created. The museum itself is more of a studio and extension of his actual home which we could see behind him.

We spent around 30 minutes speaking with him and looking at the various prints displayed around the room before purchasing one and asking for a chance to take a quick portrait which he obliged saying he was happy to share his Ukiyoe with the world. I was sad to hear however that he didn't have any apprentices or anyone to carry on his art and that he felt it was too late to begin teaching the next generation so I felt this experience was especially important to write about and show this great little hidden place.


You can see more info and pictures here: