Publishers in the Production of Ukiyo-e Prints



Utagawa Toyokuni III, “A Modern-day Match-up with the Four Estates: Merchant,” Ōta Memorial Museum of Art

 Ukiyo-e prints were issued in large numbers so they could be purchased easily by ordinary people. The production, promotion and sale of the prints was handled by publishers. The success of a print depended on the skill of the publisher in discovering talented new artists and anticipating changes in trends and tastes. Tsutaya Jūzaburō, who launched the careers of famous artists such as Utamaro and Sharaku, was a typical Ukiyo-e print publisher.

 The publisher’s stamp, designed to include the symbol of the publishing house, can be found immediately next to the artist’s signature seal along the margins of Ukiyo-e prints. After the advent of censorship in the Kansei Period (1789-1801) censors would also place their seals on prints. These would turn out to be useful in determining a print’s year of publication.

 Focusing on the information that the seals provide, the present exhibition sheds light on the publisher in Ukiyo-e print production from the mid 18th to the 19th century. Some prints depict shops of Ukiyo-e publishers with prints displayed for sale. These give clues to contemporary tastes.


10/7 sat. 13:30-15:00
“The Many Roles of the Ukiyo-e Print Publisher”
Instructor: Hinohara Kenji (Head curator, Ōta Memorial Museum of Art) Admission: Free
Venue: Presentation Hall (Library, 3F)
Reservation required

Gallery Talk

9/30 sat. 13:30-


Hours: 10:00-16:00  
Closed: Sundays, Mondays and holiday
Admission: 300 yen (free for high school students and under)


●By train: take either the JR Sotobō Line to Ōami Station or the JR Sōbu Main Line to Narutō Station; change trains and take the JR Tōgane Line; get off at Gumyō Station; 5 minutes walk to the university
●By car: take either the Keiyō Highway or the Tateyama Expressway to the Chiba-higashi Junction; from there, enter the Tōgane Toll Road; exit at Tōgane and take National Highway (Route) 126 in the direction of Narutō for about 20 minutes; at the signal at Josai International University Mae, turn right
●Shuttle Bus Service Available from: JR Tokyo Station, JR Yokohama Station, JR Nishifunabashi Station; JR Kisarazu Station, JR Soga Station, JR Ōami Station, JR Narutō Station, JR Tōgane Station, Keisei Narita Station



Tōshūsai Sharaku, “Arashi Ryūzō II as the Moneylender Ishibe Kinkichi,”
Mizuta Museum of Art


Utagawa Hiroshige “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo: Kinryūzan Temple, Asakusa,”
Ōta Memorial Museum of Art

Mizuta Museum of Art, Josai International University
1 Gumyō, Tōgane-shi, Chiba 283-8555, Japan
Tel. 0475-53-2562

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