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Mokuhanga / Japanese Woodblock Printmaking Book Recommendations

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

These are some of the How-to books on woodblock printmaking I use and recommend

Knowing the very basic of Japanese Woodblock Printmaking, I have been self-teaching by reading and practicing. These are the books I actually own and recommend. Some of them are in Japanese, but they have ample photos to help you understand. Even I, who can read Japanese, sometimes do not understand what they mean by just reading the texts.

The First Books

This is a compact paperback book with lots of information needed for more than basic knowledge and photos. She can probably produce such a book because she has ample experience as an artist and an educator. Highly recommended as the first book you purchase. She is based in UK, so her substitution recommendation may be helpful. She also has a YouTube channel which is informative but also very calming.

A page from Laura Boswell's book showing in photos different textures and explaining in text what caused them, and how to fix them.
I find this troubleshooting page very helpful.

(50 Techniques to Improve Your Mokuhanga)

Even though written in Japanese, this book is full of photos to show you how you should be holding carving tools, brushes and baren, and how your inked plate (wood) looks, how to sharpen your tools. With more photos and less text, this is very helpful for very beginners to use the carving tools safely.

This is a big paperback book with lots and lots of photos explaining the basic techniques and tools. I find it more helpful if you understand the flow of woodblock printing from beginning to end, before you open this book. And when you open this book, I recommend reading it through first, so you know which information is where. You may find that taking an online course is the faster way to understand it all. Even though it is written in English, he is based in Japan, so there may be tools and materials not available in your country.

More Techniques & Inspiration

This one is even chunkier than his first book. Lots of ideas for creating interesting textures without using anything fancy. Also goes in quite deep about sharpening tools and sizing paper. He is based in Japan though, so some materials, especially for sizing may not be acquirable in your country.

(Mokuhanga Techniques: Learn the Basics Taught by a Pro by Waichi Hayashi)

Full of good information about Japanese Woodblock Printmaking, but you will need to be able to read Japanese. I really like how this book is put together. It tells you everything you need to know and more, from Kento registration to sharpening tools to traditional image transfer method, even to how to make your own Baren!

This is a pretty hardcover. It helps you understand the history of woodblock printmaking and about washi/Japanse papers. This book is not for learning technical aspects of woodblock printing, though it goes into some techniques. There are lots of examples of creative, modern, and complicated prints by professionals which are good to look at.




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