To its devoted proponents, Japanese water-based printmaking, known as “mokuhanga,” is more than a means of self-expression — it is a discipline, a practice, even a way of life. Each aspect of mokuhanga demands a spirit of humility and respect for the art form, with an attentiveness and regard for the storied legacy the technique carries. Among modern-day practitioners working in the medium, some have abandoned vocations and professional careers to devote themselves to mokuhanga as a dedicated life’s path.
Traceable to eighth-century woodblock printing, water- based printmaking became celebrated and prevalent in Japan during the Edo period (1604-1868). The genre has seen a resurgence of popularity in recent decades with new applications and aesthetics, and some controversy regarding the naming of the technique. Among modern-day artists, the term mokuhanga — moku (wood), han (impression), ga (picture)— is most widely accepted.