Ukiyoe Small Museum – Kyōto-shi, Japan - Atlas Obscura
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Kyōto-shi, Japan

Ukiyoe Small Museum

A tiny collection of traditional Japanese woodblock prints, open only when the owner feels like it. 

The sign outside this studio is enough to make anyone stop and smile. But the amusingly honest announcement of the studio’s hours isn’t the real attraction. The true treasure lies tucked behind the doors, waiting to be revealed whenever its owner decides to open shop.

If you happen to pass by when the quaint studio is open, you’re in for a real treat. Inside, you’ll find traditional woodblock prints. The prints are a style of Japanese art called ukiyo-e, which was popular between the 17th through 19th centuries.

Though the beautiful images of landscapes, people, animals, and folk tales were once popular, the craft began to wane by the 20th century. Now, there are only about 50 ukiyo-e artists remaining in Japan.

The studio’s owner and resident artist, Ichimura Mamoru, is happy to chat about his work, and will even show you how the prints are made. He’s been practicing the art of ukiyo-e for decades, after learning it from his grandfather as a teenager. As there are so few ukiyo-e artists left in the country, a personal tour of Mamoru’s artwork is a rare experience.