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The Unfinished Print

Mar 31, 2021

Richard Steiner has been making woodblock prints for over 50 years.  Living in Kyōto, Japan for most of that time, Richard has been inventing new tools for making mokuhanga, has been creating new works on a regular basis, as well as instructing. Richard is an innovator and creator in the world of woodblock printmaking and has the body of work and success to show for it. In this episode of The Unfinished Print, I sit down and speak with Richard Steiner about his life in Japan, what goes into making his prints and we discover who Richard Shakespeare really is.

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


Richard Steiner website, blog, and shop can be found, here

Kyōto - capital of Japan from 794-1868 it is a city which continues to beguile and attract tourists from around the world. Information regarding the cities attractions can be found here 

Tochigi prefecture is a landlocked prefecture famous for the city of Nikkō, which is the burial place of shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616). It’s a beautiful and wonderful prefecture. Tourist information can be found, here at the JNTO website. Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) designed several prints for the temples and surrounding areas of Nikkō such as Futatsudō Hall,                                  Road To Nikkō, Snow At The Sacred Bridge In Nikkō,  and Yumoto Hot Spring At Nikkō. Other print designers such as Koitsu Tsuchiya (b 1870 - d?), Shiro Kasamatsu (1898-1991), and Yoshida Hiroshi (1876-1950) all designed prints about Nikkō with many being quite rare and collectible today.

Hiroshima City is the capital port city of Hiroshima, Prefecture which has a long and famous history. Hiroshima City is well worth the visit, with its rolling hills, beautiful sea and city scapes as well as plenty of hiking and outdoor activities.  Hiroshima tourist information can be found, here.

In Japan the passing of names from teachers to students is very common. Traditionally this occurs in the arts such as theatre, or within various martial arts schools. Tattooing culture and woodblock prints also follow this tradition. Richard Steiner explains how he received his Japanese name from his teacher in the interview. In horimono, or traditional Japanese tattooing the prefix”hori” (carver) is given to the student as they themselves have graduated from the teachings of their master. In kabuki theatre, family names (yagō) are bequeathed to sons (sometimes daughters) of famous fathers, most famously The Danjurō line of actors, (Naritaya), but of course there are many other acting guilds, such as the Nakamuraya, Matsushimaya, Otowaya and Omodakaya. For more information about kabuki theatre always go to

Richard received his name Tōsai from his teacher, Masahiko Tokumitsu, in 1980.

Holbein is a pigment company based in Ōsaka, Japan. A popular pigment used by many mokuhanga printmakers.  

Richard Steiner’s “moistening pack” can be found here, on Richard’s website.

Terry McKenna is a printmaker and instructor of mokuhanga based in Karuizawa, Nagano, Japan. He was one of my earliest interviews. He runs and operates the Karuizawa Mokuhanga School

Expo ‘70 was one in a series of “Expo’s” or world’s fair held throughout the world organized by the Bureau des International Expositiones (BIE). Over 76 countries participated with over 68 million people from all over the world attending. It showcased all that post-war Japan had to offer to the world with a “future city” approach housing world pavilions to share cultural ideas under the banner of “Progress and Harmony of Mankind.” More information can be found, here.

calligraphy (shodō) originally beginning in China but eventually became rooted in Japan with Japanese aesthetics, with many shodō schools settling throughout the country.

ikebana and kado is the art of flower arrangement. Believed to have begun by Buddhist monks it contains many elements, and layers to the art form so it is best to try it yourself.  The Ikenobo Society of Floral Art located in Kyōto has a website dedicated to ikebana and can be found, here.

Hiroshi Yoshida made a fabulous and very famous shin-hanga print of The Grand Canyon located in Arizona.

The New Year’s card prints, or nengajyōare small post card prints sent out by printmakers yearly to commemorate the Chinese zodiac, or simply the New Year’s occasion itself.

shina plywood (Tilia Japonica) is a soft wood created for the modern mokuhanga printmaker in mind. While not cheap, nor nearly good enough for thin lines the softness of the ply allows for faster production of woodblock prints as prints made with harder woods generally take much longer to make.

David Bull is a printmaker and mentor to the modern mokuhanga practitioner. Mokuhankan is the brick and mortar store located in Asakusa, Tōkyō where his team of carvers and printmakers make their prints.  He also has a Twitch stream which is regularly updated where he shows what is currently in the works.

Hillgate Gallery in Kyōto can be found, here. The website is in Japanese.

genkan (玄関) - is an walkway in a Japanese home where one take off their shoes. Flowers, art, can be shown they’re as a welcome to guests.

Wakkanai is the northernmost point in Japan and is located in Hokkaido, Japan. It is where I started my cross country bicycle ride in 2015.

Kyōto International Print Association Facebook site.

opening and closing credit background music:  “Without A Song,” by Sonny Rollins from his 1962 record The Bridge. 

© Popular Wheat Productions

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 :) The opinions expressed in The Unfinished Print podcast are not necessarily those of Andre Zadorozny and of Popular Wheat Productions.