Kenji Takenaka

Inheriting traditional woodblock printing techniques and discovering new possibilities for the future of woodblock printing

Takenaka is the fifth generation woodblock printer, woodblock print artist, and representative director and creative director of Takesasado.

Kenji Takenaka was taught by Seihachi Takenaka, the current head of the Takenaka Woodblock Printing Company, from an early age, and learned woodblock printing techniques as a printer. His skill was recognized and he was named the fifth generation.
He established “Takezasado” to promote and popularize woodblock printing technology. In addition to holding woodblock printing classes across the country, he also holds workshops throughout the United States and conducts research on woodblock printing in France and other countries around the world.

He was also a vice director of the Kyoto Woodblock Printing Crafts Association, a director of the Kyoto Print Publishing Cooperative, and a director of the Ukiyo-e Woodblock Carving Technology Preservation Association selected by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.
He served as a technical advisor for the Musashino Art University Art Research Center’s “Comprehensive Research on Text Printing Culture in Early Modern Japan” project (2014-2018), and taught at Kyoto City University of Arts (2012-2015), where he researched and researched woodblock printing. We will strive to preserve and pass it on.

In 1999, he established Takezasado, a company that develops, plans, and promotes products using woodblock printing. As representative director and creative director, he has a wide range of activities, including collaborations with creators in the contemporary art scene and producing events for major companies.
He himself has created numerous works as a woodblock print artist, and his style, which skillfully manipulates colors, has received high praise from overseas, and he is one of the few contemporary woodblock print artists whose works are in the collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Honolulu Museum of Art. be.

Woodblock printing craftsman Takenaka Kenji Takenaka 5th generation woodblock printer

Passing down techniques in the world of craftsmen with a history of 1200 years
Along with Seihachi Takenaka, the current head of Takenaka Woodblock Printing, he works as a printer at a long-established woodblock printing studio in Kyoto, passing on traditional woodblock printing techniques to the present day.
Woodblock printing, the world’s oldest printing technology, has evolved from a traditional craft into an industry through the handiwork of many craftsmen.

As a leader in this field, Kenji Takenaka has honed his woodblock printing skills, researching techniques that are now considered difficult to reproduce, old woodblocks, and old woodblock prints, and applying them to modern manufacturing.
We will also carry out activities to pass on the technology into the future, such as training successors to develop and popularize woodblock printing, and holding classes for the general public.

In 2009, he visited the National Library of France and investigated the valuable ukiyo-e woodblock prints produced during the Edo period held there. He discovered a woodblock that was thought to have been made by a famous ukiyo-e artist, and this became one of the major themes of the research project that he later started.
Since 2014, we have formed a project team to discover and revive the lost techniques of historical Japanese woodblock prints. In 2015, he began research in collaboration with Ritsumeikan University as a visiting researcher. In the same year, he visited France again, and with the cooperation of the cities of Paris and Kyoto, he was able to print from the old woodblocks he discovered in 2009.

Printing “Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji: The Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Katsushika Hokusai

Two people printing woodblock prints together, “pulling each other”

Demonstrated the printing of ukiyo-e woodblock prints with Yuko Harada at an exhibition held in Paris, France with the theme of Japanese Red.'' Katsushika Hokusai's masterpieceThirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji: The Great Wave Off Kanagawa” will be created by two people taking turns printing each edition.

The fast-paced printing uses a variety of techniques to bring out the strong and clear lines, the gradated background, and the waves of deep, uniform blue. They cheered.