Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

The Unfinished Print

Jul 20, 2022

A brand new venture can bring trepidation, and is never as straight forward as it may seem. That's something that I know all too well. On this episode of The Unfinished Print, I speak with curator, collector, and small business owner David Kutcher about his Japanese woodblock print gallery Moonlit Sea Prints. Located in Easthampton, Massachusetts, David opened his gallery to share his love of Japanese woodblokc prints.

We discuss why he got involved with the Japanese woodblock, the background of the business, his own private collection, the competition, and how history plays a part in his business. 

Please follow The Unfinished Print and my own mokuhanga work on Instagram @andrezadoroznyprints Twitter @unfinishedprint, or email me at

Notes: may contain a hyperlink. Simply click on the highlighted word or phrase.

Moonlit Sea Prints - website, Instagram

Night Fishing by Arai Yoshimune (1873-1935) - Arai Yoshimune was a woodblock print designer who designed for the Hasegawa/Nishinomiya publishing house. “Night Fishing” is one print in a series of popular shin-hanga style woodblock prints published in the early 1900’s by Hasegawa/Nishinomiya of Tōkyō, called "Night Scenes". The series is made up of 21 prints. A fascinating article on this series can be found, here. Below is the "Fishing Boat," print from the this series. 


Fuji Arts - is an online Japanese woodblock print store, for collectors and is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The company has been in operation since 2000. 

Connie Mack (1862-1956) - was an American professional baseball player and manager, and is the longest serving manager in baseball history.  

Babe Ruth (1895-1948) - is arguably the greatest American baseball player of all time. Made famous for his time with the New York Yankees form 1920-1934. Is said to have hit his first ever home run here in Toronto in 1914 when baseball was played on the island, against the Toronto Maple Leafs (baseball club). 

1934 Japan Baseball Tour - baseballs all stars of the time, including Connie Mack and Babe Ruth, went to Japan in 1934 to play on an “All American All-Stars” team. More information can be found here, with some footage. 

Acidic and non acidic matting - acid is a natural occurring element within paper. Like food, some have more, some have less. For very acid-free paper you would be using paper made from cloth rag and containing a small amount of a chemical compound called “lingnin” which is in all paper. The more lignin, the more acid the paper has. You want to use an acid-free paper to protect your print or piece of art from yellowing and other damage. For a great read on the subject, you can check it out, here . 

Starry Night by Takahashi Shōtei (1871-1945) - is a woodblock print, 6”x15” produced around 1926-1927.  Shōtei  designed woodblock prints for the Okura Shoten publishing house, and later for Maeba Shoten, finally designing some of his most famous prints, such as the one below, with Watanabe Shōzaburō (1885-1962). I have seen this print with the 1926/27 year of production as well as a 1936 date as well. A biography of Shōtei can be found, here.

Tōshi Yoshida (1911-1995) and the Franklin Mint - in the early 1980’s Tōshi Yoshida, the eldest son of Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950) embarked on a collaboration with the Franklin Mint. A private mint (a place where currency is made) based in Pennsylvania. The series of prints are considered surimono (privately commissioned prints). The prints are three sets of prints, called The Friendly Garden, Birds of the Seasons, and the calendar prints of birds and flowers. The sizes seems to vary. In muy research i've seen some prints as being 13.5" x 21.5" for the calendar prints and 12" x 20" for Birds of the Seasons. You can see some of these prints here 

print sizes - Japanese print sizes vary. The following are from the book, “The Printed Image: the Flowering of Japan’s Woodblock Print Culture, (2018).

ōban - 15” x 10”

chūban - 10.4” x 7.5”

ōtanzaku - 15.3” x 7”

chūtanzaku - 15.3” x 5.2”

For a larger and more extensive list you can find that, here, at

Japan in the 1950’s - coming out of the second world war, Japan was slowly beginning to recover ecenomically. Starting with the U.S/Japan security alliance, called the San Fransisco Peace Treaty of 1951. By the late 1950’s, and well into the late 1960’s, with the help of the United States, Japan’s GDP began to grow exponentially.

A few economic reasons were for this. First, the US market was opened to Japanese exporters, leading to protectionism by a stregthening Japanese bureaucracy, enabling the Japanese government to control domestic and international production. Second, is what Jeff Kingston calls  “industrial targeting.” This is where the Japanese government would focus on certain sectors deemed to be vital to economic growth, thereby giving private loans which in turn would create strength in Japanese infrastructure like heavy industry, crude-oil and natural gas.

This also enabled the cartel system by creating fixed cliques which as a matter of course, were open to corruption. These cartels (zaibatsu) played a large part in the fascist Japanese war machine, but with their connections with American corporations and being anti-Communist, the American post-war occupying government saw these zaibatsu as an asset to Japanese growth.

Companies that had connections to militarist Japan are, Mitsui, Mitsubishi, and Hitachi to name a few. This growth that began in the 1950’s, continued until the Japanese economic bubble burst in 1989. For more information on Japan’s economic history check out Jeff Kingston’s 2019 book, called Japan: Polity Histories.

Moonlit Sea by Shoda Koho (1871-1946) - Koho was the designer of this famous print. Little seems to be known about this print designer who published his designs with Nishinomiya Yosaku, also known as the Hasegawa Publishing Co. 

Jimbōchō -  is an area in the city of Tōkyō. Located in Chiyoda. It is an area made famous for its bookstores, where you can buy vintage, used, and new books of all genres. Some information can be found, here.

Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900) - considered to be the last ukiyo-e designer. Known as an incredible talent and having his own demons, Kunichika studied under Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865) and lived and died in Tōkyō. His work is powerful, bombastic, and colourful. His triptychs at times broke from the single panel sheet traditoin of one image per sheet, where one image for Kunichika could take up all three panels. More information can be found, here. The Museums of Liverpool have a new Kunichika exhibition from April 15, 2022 - September 4, 2022. The print below is Onoe Kikugoro V as Akashi no Naruzo (1890)

Yoshikazu Utagawa (dates unknown but active from 1850-1870) - famous for his Yokohama-e prints, prints that focused on the foreigners in Yokohama City in the 19th Century. Yoshikazu also made triptychs of tengu (long nose trickster forest goblins), and other demons. The triptych below is, Yoshitsune on Mount Kurama.

Minamoto no Yoshitsune (1159-1189) - was a leader of the Minamoto clan, associated with the period of warrinhg between the Minamoto and the Taira clans during the Heian Period (794-1185). Yoshitsune’s history, like many individuals of that historical period in Japanese history, is mixed with legend and is difficult to know what is true and what is not. Many woodblock prints were made describing his military prowess, as well as his adventures with his friend Benkei.  Some history of Yoshitsune can be found, here

intaglio printmaking - is a style of printmaking, the opposite of relief printmaking, where scratches are made with a burin on the plate (copper, zinc, aluminum) and then dipped in acid. Ink and pigment is rubbed on with a brayer, brushes, etc. More info can be found, here.

Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) - a designer of more than six hundred woodblock prints, Kawase Hasui is one of the most famous designers of the shin-hanga movement of the early twentieth century. Hasui began his career with the artist and woodblock designer Kaburaki Kiyokata (1878-1971), joining several artistic societies along the way early in his career. It wasn’t until he joined the Watanabe atelier in 1918 that he really began to gain recognition. Watanabe Shōzaburō (1885-1962) had Hasui design landscapes of the Japanese country-side, small towns, and everyday life. Hasui also worked closely with the carvers and printers of his prints to reach the level Hasui wanted his prints to be. The print below is Kude Beach, Wakasa (1920)

Tsuchiya Kōitsu (1870 - 1949) - apprenticed under artist and print designer Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915), and worked as a lithographer. Kōitsu then joined the Watanabe atelier in 1935. Kōitsu also collaborated with Doi Sadachi publishers, amongst others. Below is Suma Beach (1938)

James Abbott McNeil Whistler (1834-1903) - was an American painter based in Britain. His paintings are generally of landscapes of lonely terrain, as well as of portraits. His most famous painting is of his mother.  His complete works can be found, here. 

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) - born in Edo, Hiroshige is famous for his landscape series of that burgeoning city. The most famous series being, One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (1856-1859), and the landcape series, Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō (1833-1834). His work highlights bokashi, and bright colours. More info about his work can be found, here. Below is, Coastal Landscape In Moonlight (1857)

Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) -  was a Viennese born artist who was a part of the art nouveau, and Vienna Secessionist movements.  His subjects were, generally, of women. More information can be found, here.

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) - was a Dutch post-Impressionist painter. He began to collect Japanese woodblock prints around the winter of 1886-1887 from the art dealer Siegfried Bing, to collect and to sell for a profit, although he didn’t sell very many. This collection would go on to influence much of his work. 

Red Fuji - also called “Fine Wind, Clear Morning,” is a woodblock print designed by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) and made around 1830-1832. 

The Great Wave off Kanagawa - is a woodblock print designed by Katsushika Hokusai in 1831. It is very famous. 

Hokusai Updated - was an exhibition held at the Mori Art Museum in the Roppongi area of Tōkyō which ran from January, 17th, 2019 to March, 24th, 2019. 

Hokusai manga - first published in 1814 these comical figures, lansdscapes, flowers, and other various images were created by the woodblock designer and artist Katsushika Hokusai. Beginning with Volume 1, “Transmitting the Spirit and Revealing the Form of Things,” the series became impressively popular and was continually produced, in fifteen volumes, until 1878, and in woodblock print form.  More information from the Princeton Library can be found, here. 

Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831-1889) - was a woodblock print designer and painter who focused on dark, devious, ghostly images and even some war prints.  Kyōsai’s work has had a resurgence the passed decade with many people outside of the woodblock print community. More information can be found, here. Below is his triptych, Demon's Out.

The Western influence on the Japanese print market - Western collectors have had a deep affinity for Japanese woodblock prints since the late 19th Century. In 1891, the print curator of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts held a Japanese print exhibition at the Smithsonian and in many ways, helped usher in a love for the Japanese woodblock print in America. As the popularity of Japanese woodblock prints began to grow, with more foreign artists living and working in Japan and abroad, such as Emil Orlik (1870-1932), Bertha Lum (1869-1954), and Helen Hyde (1868-1919) who started making their own woodblock prints. This new awareness of contemporary and vintage Japanese woodblock prints began to foster more collecting. As time has gone on, and with the Japanese woodblock print becoming so famous in the West, prices in Japan have begun to climb steadily, with more collectors in Japan collecting woodblock prints.  

sensō-e - are Japanese woodblock prints which focus on war. They can be single panel, diptych and triptych's. Complicated woodblock techniques were used, which highlighted war, specifically the first  Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895). Artists such as Kobayashi Kiyochika designed prints for this war, the beginning of the Japanese Imperialist project. More information can be found, here. Below is Great Victory and Occupation of Jiuliancheng (1894) by Watanabe Nobukazu (1874-1944) 

Shirō Kasamatsu (1898-1991) - was a woodblock print designer who worked with the Watanabe atelier making shin-hanga designs. Below is Mount Wakakusa (ca. 1930) and Mountains Cottage in Spring (ca. 1960's)

Floating World Gallery - is a Chicago-based  brick and mortar / online Japanese woodblock print outlet in operation since 1987.  Focusing on all genres of Japanese woodblock prints. More info, here. 

Crosseyed Gallery - is a Los Angeles based woodblock print online store. More info, here.  

Art Walk: Easthampton, Massachusetts - is a monthly art walk held the first Friday of the month and created by Easthampton City Arts. They arrange arts programming and cultural events. More info, here. 

Pillar prints  - also called hashira-e (柱絵), are prints which have the shape of scrolls but are smaller. They are 4.5” x 28” and were attached to pillars in Japanese homes. Associated with the 18th Century. More info can be fond, here. Below is Cherry and the Moon, by Yoshimoto Gesso (ca. 1910-1930)

Yoshimoto Gesso (1881-1936) - was a shin-hanga print designer who designed many landscapes, birds, and flowers. More info, here. Below is his Blue Bird and Asters (ca.1930's)

surimono (摺物)-  are privately commissioned woodblock prints, usually containing specialty techniques such as mica, and blind embossing. Below is Heron and Iris, (ca. 1770's) by Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858). This print is from David Bull's reproduction of that work. You can find more info about that project, here

Ronin Gallery - is a NYC based Japanese woodblock print brick and mortar, online shop, and was established in 1975. More info can be found, here. 

Taoist alchemy -  also called nei-dun, is a type of internal alchemy in Taoism which purports to give the initiate a long life. External alchemy in Taoism is called wai-dan which uses herbs and minerals to promote a long life. More info can be found, here.   

© Popular Wheat Productions

opening and closing credit sound - I am listening to the CBC's IDEAS podcast and the episode is called "Madame Blavatsky: Intellect, Adventurer, Occultist...Fraud. This can be found on any podcast platform. 

logo designed and produced by Douglas Batchelor and André Zadorozny 

Disclaimer: Please do not reproduce or use anything from this podcast without shooting me an email and getting my express written or verbal consent. I'm friendly :)

Слава Україну

If you find any issue with something in the show notes please let me know.

***The opinions expressed by guests in The Unfinished Print podcast are not necessarily those of André Zadorozny and of Popular Wheat Productions.***


Forrer, Matthi, Michael Scuffil, and Adele Schlombs. The Printed Image: The Flowering of Japan's Woodblock Printing Culture. Köln: Buchhandlung Walther König, 2018.

Marks, Andreas, Chiaki Ajioka, and Elisabeth Sövik. Seven Masters: 20th-Century Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Wells Collection. Minneapolis, MN: Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2015.

Martin, Katherine. Highlights of Japanese Printmaking, Part 3: The International Perspective.Scholten Japanese Art, 2008.

Uhlenbeck, Chris, Louis van Tilborgh, Shigeru Oikawa, Lynne Richards, and Diane Webb. Japanese Prints: The Collection of Vincent Van Gogh. London: Thames & Hudson, 2018.