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Ukiyo-e Heroes: Paying Modern Tribute To The Floating World

Note: This page is from a previous year’s HYPER JAPAN Christmas Market event, please see our schedule for an up-to-date list of performances and activities.

8bitfujiUkiyo-e is a form of Japanese printmaking that defined an entire epoch’s aesthetic, and to this day influences what’s considered a “Japanese” style of artwork throughout the world. Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” is perhaps the most famous example. What’s less well-known is that Ukiyo-e was very much a pop cultural trend, the relative mass-production of the prints allowing them to be sold to members of the growing middle classes in Japan’s 18th and 19th-century capital, Edo. At this November’s HYPER JAPAN Christmas Market, you can see this traditional artform taken back to its pop-cultural roots by Ukiyo-e Heroes!



Jed Henry and Dave Bull began collaborating in 2012, commencing the Ukiyo-e Heroes project with their first print, “Rickshaw Cart”. Likening the genre-spanning pop-art creativity of the “Floating World” Ukiyo culture to the characters and story elements Japan’s modern-day videogame output, these art pieces take the essence of famous modern pop-culture characters and return them to the aesthetic and historical setting of the Edo period to create a loving homage to two different branches of Japanese pop cultural phenomena at once.

Sales of their successful series of hand-made woodblock prints have allowed them to continue producing prints in the traditional manner, even to the point of employing master printers and supporting a workshop full of apprentices. By maintaining the traditions of the art form while adding modern appeal, they are revitalising the Japanese woodblock community.