“Out of the Dark Valley: Japanese Woodblock Prints and War, 1937-1945”

Brown, Kendall H. “Out of the Dark Valley: Japanese Woodblock Prints and War, 1937-1945.” Impressions, no. 23, 2001, pp. 64–85. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/42597893. Accessed 14 Mar. 2021.

Most of the famous Japanese Woodblock Prints were made during the 19th century although, prints made during 1937 through 1945 served a great purpose for the Japanese culture. Throughout WWII, and especially at the end with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan was in the middle of a societal/political shift from a more conservative and traditional society to “Taishõ ‘liberals’ and postwar democracy”. The prints were a way for artists to display their versions of Japan and with the growing conflict from the war, the Japanese Print Service Society was created in. 1943, as a way to collect and obtain materials such as ink, wood, and washi paper. Landscape prints from 1937 to 1945 show Japan as a “divine land {sumera no mikuni}” with these prints showing the beauty of land troubled with war.

Ito Shinsui, born in 1898, was a Japanese painter, who mainly painted Geishas and other women from 1920 to 1970 before his death in 1972. He helped revitalize the art of traditional painting during the age of photography. This piece is titled “Okoso Zukin” and was made in 1950.

Artist: Ito Shinsui (1898-1972)

Title: Purple Hood (Okoso Zukin)

Medium: Washi on Woodblock with Ink and Color

Date Created: 1950

Dimensions: 14 in by 20 in

Publisher: Watanabe Shozaburo

Location: Japan


  1. https://www.woodblockprintsworld.com/purple-hood-ito-shinsui.html

Author: Charlotte Becker

1 thought on ““Out of the Dark Valley: Japanese Woodblock Prints and War, 1937-1945”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *