To collectors of Japanese woodblock prints, the prints produced by Shimbi Shoin Publisher during the very early 1900's
period of Japan are noteworthy and certainly deserving of their attention. This turn-of-the-century period was a time
when Japanese printmaking techniques had advanced to a very high level of quality and craftsmanship. As a result, prints
of this period are often noteworthy for their very high quality and use of deluxe printing techniques. It was also
a turbulent time--a period when the introduction of photography, lithography, and other "modern" techniques began to
challenge and slowly replace the need for hand-carved and hand-printed artwork. The highly skilled artisans of this
period--both carvers and printers--were cast about by this sea of change, and in many cases found themselves
literally looking for employment.
Despite this cultural movement toward change and the adoption of newer techniques, publishers such as Tokyo's Shimbi Shoin
Publisher and Watanabe Publisher refused to give in--insisting that their hand-made prints were technically superior
to anything that could ever be mass-produced by mechanical means.
Of course, today we still share their vision, their courage, and their dedication. Looking back, we know today that
they were indeed right. To students of Japanese prints, of course it was the year 1906 when the term for these "new prints" known then as "shin hanga" (in Japanese,
"shin" means "new," and "hanga" means "print") was introduced by Shozaburo WATANABE when he, too, began to boldly
redefine Japanese printmaking. To publishers such as Watanabe and Shimbi Shoin, we owe a great debt.
Literature (and print) sources used in preparation of this and other articles include:
Above documented prints courtesy of: Ukiyoe-Gallery and "John," our Kyoto Consignor
"John", (Kyoto, Japan), a consignor and dealer of Japanese antiques
George C. Baxley, (Alamogordo, NM), himself a dealer of (in his own words) "old books and stamps" (permission granted to quote)
"Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975", by Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, ISBN 0-8248-1732-X
"Kawase Hasui -- The Complete Woodblock Prints", by Kendall H. Brown & Shoichiro Watanabe, Hotei (KIT) Publishing, Netherlands, ISBN 90-74822-46-0
"Crows, Cranes and Camellias: The Natural World of Ohara Koson", by Amy Reigle Newland, Jan Perree, Robert Schaap, Hotei (KIT) Publishing, Netherlands, ISBN 90-74822-38-X