Suppliers in Japan (entry by David Bull)
The woodblock printmaking supply field in Japan is not exactly a 'world-scale' operation. We're not talking about a Mitsui or a Sony here. These people are all very small-scale operations. Keep this in mind when contacting them.
The first 'problem' is language: it is highly recommended that you find a Japanese-speaking person in your local area, and have them assist you in the preparation of a Japanese-language letter.
The second 'problem' is payment: if you were to make a remittance with a bank draft for, say $100, the bank fees for cashing it on this end could amount to a greater amount than the value of the draft itself. There are only two practical ways to make a small-scale remittance to this country - by credit card, or by International Postal Money order.
Matsumura san's main business is running the family lumberyard, but he has been interested in woodblock printmaking for a long time, and some years ago he opened up a printmaker's supply shop in one corner of his main office.
He has pretty much everything you need to get involved with woodblock printmaking. He has so far been dealing domestically only, and his current catalogue is in Japanese, but he is interested in widening his scope, and is now preparing the next edition of his catalogue - this one bilingual.
Nerima-ku Tokyo 177
(Although they can read your simple enquiry in English, they do not speak it comfortably, so if you wish to correspond with him, please locate a Japanese student in your area and prepare your mail in Japanese ...)
A selection of their merchandise is available in the Baren Mall.
Mr. Kikuo Gosho
Gosho-san is now pretty much the last maker of the 'hon' baren. A couple of other people are making them 'on the side', but this is Gosho san's main business. The last member ... of a tradition that runs back at least three hundred years ...
His barens are totally authentic. The bamboo coil is made from finely braided 'shiradake', and the backing disk from just about 50 sheets of fine washi - laid up one sheet per day ...
Mr. Kikuo Gosho
Shimo Fujisawa 480
Iruma City, Saitama
(He speaks no English, so if you wish to correspond with him, please locate a Japanese student in your area and prepare a letter in Japanese ...)