Book Review: Japan Journeys – Famous Woodblock Prints of Cultural Sights in Japan by Andreas Marks

Japan Journeys

Japan Journeys – Famous Woodblock Prints of Cultural Sights in Japan by Andreas Marks

Japan Journeys – Famous Woodblock Prints of Cultural Sights in Japan by Andreas Marks (Tuttle, 2015) is a beautiful book. Gathering together around two hundred Japanese woodblock prints (ukiyo-e / 浮世絵), art historian Andreas Marks takes us on a journey through Japan’s famous sights as depicted by artists such as Utagawa Hiroshige (歌川 広重), Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾 北斎), Kitagawa Utamaro (喜多川 歌麿), and Utagawa Kunisada (歌川 国貞).

The Golden Pavilion, Yoshida Hiroshii, 1933

The Golden Pavilion, Yoshida Hiroshii, 1933

As well as prints depicting beautiful landscapes and famous sights, the book also includes images showing the roads and railways used by travellers in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and favourite pastimes such as cherry blossom viewing, attending festivals, and watching kabuki. The book includes captions which explain the images and add more depth to them, helping the reader to understand the cultural significance of each picture.

The Steam Train at Tokyo Takanawa, Ikkei, 1872

The Steam Train at Tokyo Takanawa (today’s Shinagawa Station), Ikkei, 1872

I really enjoyed looking at some of the more modern images in the book, but it was also good to see classics such as images from Katsuhika Hokusai’s ‘Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido‘ (東海道五十三次) series and the ‘Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji‘ (富嶽三十六景). However, it was twentieth century ukiyo-e images that made the biggest impression on me, perhaps because I haven’t seen that many before.

Evening View of Tokyo Station, Ishii Tsuruzo, 1928 (left) and Tokyo Station, Onchi Koshiro, 1946 (right)

Evening View of Tokyo Station, Ishii Tsuruzo, 1928 (left) and Tokyo Station, Onchi Koshiro, 1946 (right)

Japan Journeys is advertised as being a book for ‘visitors of Japan and armchair travellers alike’ as well as being a ‘valuable resource for art historians and anyone interested in Japanese art, history and culture’. I fit into more than one of those categories, and I must say this book is giving me very itchy feet. I love the idea of looking at a picture in a book and then travelling to far off lands to see the same sights with my own eyes. I know that’s a very romantic view of travel, but in my mind that must be how it was before photography became common.

Picture of the Grounds of the Kinryuzan Kannon Temple in Asakusam Edo, Keisai Eisen, 1830s

Picture of the Grounds of the Kinryuzan Kannon Temple in Asakusam Edo, Keisai Eisen, 1830s

This is a really beautiful book, and interesting too! I defy anyone to flick through the 160-odd pages of this book and not find a single image that makes them want to visit Japan. Andreas Marks clearly knows his stuff, and he has chosen a really lovely selection of images to portray Japan from a variety of angles. Whether it is people, natural landscapes or buildings that you like, there is something here for everyone.

Cool Evening at Shijogawara during the Gion Festival in the Imperial Capital, Utagawa Sadahide, 1859

Cool Evening at Shijogawara during the Gion Festival in the Imperial Capital, Utagawa Sadahide, 1859

Buy Japan Journeys – Famous Woodblock Prints of Cultural Sights in Japan by Andreas Marks from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk and read more at TuttlePublishing.com.

☆★☆ COMPETITION TIME! ☆★☆

Would you like to win a copy of Japan Journeys – Famous Woodblock Prints of Cultural Sights in Japan by Andreas Marks? All you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post telling me what your favourite cultural sight in Japan is (it doesn’t matter if you’ve been there or not). Please make sure you leave a valid email address with your comment (this will not be published), as this will be used to contact the winner. The closing date for entries is Friday 26th June at midnight BST.

Would you like a second entry? If you’d like to double your chances of winning, please share this post on Twitter and make sure to mention me (@Ali_Haikugirl) in your Tweet!

Information
Please note that only comments left on this blog post will be accepted as competition entries, and comments left via social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) will not be counted. To qualify for the ‘second entry’ via Twitter, you must also post a comment on this blog post.

This competition is open to EVERYONE, wherever you are in the world! After the closing date has passed, a winner will be selected at random and that person will be contacted directly using the email address provided. The winner will need to supply a postal address for the prize to be sent to, and the prize will be mailed out directly by the publisher. If the selected winner does not respond with a postal address within 14 days of being contacted another winner will be selected in their place.

14 thoughts on “Book Review: Japan Journeys – Famous Woodblock Prints of Cultural Sights in Japan by Andreas Marks

  1. Great review. Wasn’t sure if what I thought I posted was posted as the process was a bit confusing on my mobile phone so here goes again – Trevor Skingle, My favourite site in Japan is Byodo-in at Uji

    Like

  2. Easy: Koyazan. The scale, the historic significance, the ambiance, the trees, the moss, the authentic accommodation, the cable car in – incomparable.

    Like

  3. Looks like a great book! Would love to have a copy (:

    It’s a hard decision but I’ll say my favorite cultural site in Japan is Kiyomizu-dera.

    In case I win you can use “playthefieldgame@gmail.com” to contact me, though I don’t check that too often so I’d prefer you put a comment on my blog as well, if it’s not a problem.

    Like

  4. My favorite cultural sight in Japan is an Izakaya called Shuraku (酒楽) in my old hometown. You will never learn more about Japanese culture than drinking and breaking bread with Japanese people from all walks of life!

    Like

  5. Looks like a lovely book! Tough question but if I had to pick one sight it would be the floating torii gate by Miyajima Island. There’s nothing like it anywhere else in the world.

    Like

  6. Very lovely review – I really want to read this book!

    My favourite cultural sight in Japan has to be Himeji Castle. It’s so beautiful!

    Like

  7. Looks like a beautiful book! I’m going to go with Mt Fuji – we saw it from the shinkansen on the way from Tokyo to Kyoto, would love to visit it properly!

    Like

  8. Thank you for the review! I really love ukiyo-e, and I definitely have to check out this book. I’m glad you introduced it, because I’d never heard of it!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s