Saturday, April 9, 2011

Kyoto the Trip! Part 5 - Antiquing Kyoto Style

While we were wandering through the shopping arcades of Kyoto on the second night, we came across a shop window full of antique books and woodblock prints. This isn’t the sort of thing that excites most people, but I quite like old books – especially old Japanese books – and woodblock prints. I have a small collection of them stored somewhere in my parent’s garage back in Canada that I accumulated during my previous stay in Japan.

I really like woodblock prints. They are colorful and geared towards the masses of the time rather than wealthy art collectors. They were a source of inspiration for European impressionist painters in the 19th century, ironically at a time when they were completely going out of fashion in Japan. I never pass up a chance to look at a store that has some, though they are a hard commodity to find in Fukuoka.

So into the store we ventured.The shop was called Daishodo, located in the Teramachi shopping arcade. For an old-book lover like myself, it is an amazing place. Wall to wall books and prints meticulously decorating every square inch of the cozy 2 floor shop. The store proprietor – a congenial looking man his 50s (I guess) - sat at his little desk reading, oblivious to the presence of the customers who had just walked in.

Score one for Daishodo.

We (OK, more I) spent about an hour poring over the selection. Usually old book stores in Japan are about 95% crap and 5% good stuff (if that), but not Daishodo. Everything in the store was good stuff, all of it carefully labeled with the artist’s name and date and organized in a very pleasing way.It was intimidating as a lot of the good stuff had prices running into the thousands of dollars on them. Happily though they had a wide range of choices for even the (ahem) more economically conscious woodblock print collectors among us. And so I walked out of the store with some new possessions in tow and a lighter wallet in my pocket. Here is what I got:

Toyokuni the Third (1852)

Hirosada (1861)

Yoshiiku (1867)

Kunichika (1882)

(?) (1897)

Unknown (1771)

I was pretty happy with the haul. For 400 yen each they also had some of these:

I think these were just pictures they cut out of an old book (the date said 1771). They are actually a pretty cool and cheap piece of home decor though. They fit perfectly into 100 yen shop picture frames (which is what it is in). I picked up four of the nicer pictures and, together with the frames, the whole set only cost about 20 bucks:So next time you are in Kyoto and you happen to be a woodblock print or antique book lover, head over to Daishodo.

More pictures and stories of our Kyoto holiday in the next post.

Related Posts:
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 1 - Tofukuji and Sanjusangendo
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 2 - Kiyomizu Temple and Maruyama Koen
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 3 - Ryoanji and Ninnaji
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 4 - Shopping Arcades by Night
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 6 - Cute Buddhist Statues
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 7 - Ohara and the Wrath of Mount Hiei
- Kyoto the Trip! Part 8 - Kyoto Station vs. Kyoto Tower


Bryan Ochalla said...

I've loved Japanese woodblock prints ever since I took a class on Japanese art while in college, so I'm especially enamored by this post.

The Kunichika's probably my favorite, although all of your acquisitions are very nice. Which one is your favorite?

Anyway, I'll have to make a note to check out Daishodo if and when I ever make my way to Japan (assuming I go to Kyoto, of course).

Sean said...

Interesting, I've had a fascination with the things for a while too! I think I'm also partial to the Kunichika one as it has the most going on in it.

Generally I like the ones with nice landscapes a bit better, but they were all out of my price range so I settled for these ones of people, which I thought were quite nice. Definitely hit Daishodo if you ever make it to Kyoto, you won't be disappointed!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sean,
Do you know if we can buy these woodblock prints online ?

Sean said...


Unfortunately this store doesn`t have a website and only sells through the store itself. There is a bit more info about it on the shopping arcade`s website in Japanese but that is about it.