Photo of Mr. Urushibara
Yoshijiro Urushibara
The Prints


Introduction to Yoshijiro (Mokuchu) Urushibara


The influence of Japanese design on the West during the period after Japan's 'opening' is well documented. Japanese participation in many large-scale international Expositions in Europe and America in the last half of the 19th century provided one of the main routes for Japanese culture to be disseminated throughout the world. A popular 'feature' of these expositions were the demonstrations of various Japanese arts and crafts given by craftsmen. For the Anglo-Japanese Exhibition held in London in 1910 a group of woodblock print craftsmen was brought from Japan, and among them was the young (he was then 21 years old) printer Urushibara. At the closing of the Exhibition, he did not return to Japan, but stayed on in London, where he worked at the British Museum on the making of reproduction prints, print restoration and scroll mounting.

After he left the museum and struck out on his own, Urushibara worked with a number of designers, both in France and England, doing the carving and/or printing for a great many 'collaborative' prints, the most notable of these being the work done with Frank Brangwyn. As time went by, he also developed his own skills as a designer, producing dozens of original prints. At some point during those years, he began to use the 'art name' Mokuchu [木虫], and this is the name applied on some of his print seals.

As the Pacific war approached, Urushibara returned to Japan, putting an end to the cross-cultural collaborations. We will never know what sort of work they could have gone on to produce without that 'interruption', but at least we have the prints you see on this site as examples of a good international collaborative 'mixup'.

There is plenty here to repay the time you spend studying the work, and we hope that Mr. Urushibara's accomplishments can enjoy the attention they deserve.