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Mokuhanga Studio Stay and Study Information

Welcome to our Mokuhanga Studio Residency. We want you to feel comfortable while you are with us, and also to get the best use of your time, so please read the following information.

 

About staying with us
We have had many people stay with us short or longer term, and enjoy the company, and especially teaching you about mokuhanga. We look forward to see your work and progress. We hope you feel welcome, relaxed and comfortable. The studio is a house is a semi-residential area, with two rooms available for accommodation, a carving studio, printing studio/kitchen, office, and other household facilities. While you are staying please make yourself comfortable. You will be shown the facilities and what is available to use when you arrive. 

About the neighbourhood
There is a mix of residential homes, holiday houses and shops as our neighbours. We ask you to respect the quiet and orderly nature of the area and Japanese society in general - everything you do reflects no only on yourself but also on our studio and standing in the community, and visitors to Japan in general. We do have some house rules, please make yourself familiar with them.

Location
We are located in Karuizawa, a short 10 minute walk from Karuizawa station (Shinkansen & local trains). A well-stocked supermarket is nearby, as well as a Post Office, convenience store, restaurants and cafes, There are many pleasant walks around town and in the nearby hills to enjoy in your break times. Tokyo is just over an hour away by shinkansen, and there are many interesting destinations further into Nagano either by local trains or shinkansen. Karuizawa itself is a famous resort town with many facilites and is often very busy with domestic and international tourists.

Karuizawa Weather
Karuizawa is an alpine resort town, while summers are generally very comfortable without the extreme heat and humidity of other parts of Japan, winters are cold and with occasional heavy snow. The studio has a wooden floor, which is cold on the feet so please bring warm slippers, even in warmer months.

Studio Timetable
• Tuition available from 11.00am until 5.00pm
• Lunch 12pm (according to progress) for about half an hour
• Tea / Coffee break - any time we feel like it!

You may continue to work on your own as you feel like. Please make the most of your opportunity.

TV / Internet / Phone
These are not provided at the studio - please arrange your own phone and internet access before you arrive. There is free Wi-fi available at Karuizawa station, just a short walk away.

Bathroom / Laundry
The bathroom and toilet is shared, and a washing machine is available for you to use when you wish. Clothes are hung outside to dry on the second floor verandah. We have a Japanese style bath which is very nice to relax in!

Smoking / Alcohol
There is no smoking allowed in the studio. You may enjoy a little alcohol as you feel like outside work hours, but we don't want this to interfere with your study, or to create any disturbance with other students or neighbours.

Pets
There are no pets at the studio, and no facility for pets to stay.

Guests
Inviting guests to the studio is not allowed without prior permission.

About preparing meals
You are free to prepare meals and drinks as you feel like it. The kitchen is also used as our printing studio, so please make sure you have tidied up after your meals. You are welcome to eat your meals wherever is convenient, however please take care not to spill food or drink on the tatami mats.

General cleanliness
You are responsible for cleaning up after yourself and making the work areas, shared facilities, bathroom and toilet good to use both for yourself and other people using the studio. There is no room service, it's up to you to keep your room tidy. Feel free to use the washing machine to wash your sheets as you feel like.

Shoes
Shoes are not worn inside the studio, as is almost universal in Japanese houses. The small entrance area (genkan) has a cupboard to store your shoes. Slippers are worn inside as needed.  (please don't wear the slippers outside)

Tatami mats
Your bedrooms have tatami mats which have some rules - only socks or bare (clean) feet may be used on the tatami. This is a universal rule in Japan! You may take food or drink into your rooms, but please take care not to spill anything on the mats. You will be required to pay for an damage to the mats.

 

 

What is Mokuhanga?

bijin-traditional-web

Detail of traditional print "Haru Nano Higashi Genji" by Kunichika Toyohara

 

Mokuhanga is the traditional water based printing technique, originating in China and perfected in Japan.

A print is created through design, carving blocks for each colour, then printing each colour successively until the print edition is completed.

 

Mokuhanga is the Japanese word for wood block print. The Japanese characters 木版画 are 木 wood, 版 block and 画 picture.

 

In Japan its meaning is the print itself, but in general contemporary use it means both the print and the technique. Mokuhanga is growing in popularity worldwide as learning becomes more accessible to people outside of Japan.

 
 

 

Kunisada Printmaking tripty

 

 

 

Mokuhanga is chemical free, non-toxic, environmentally friendly, uses relatively simple hand tools and equipment and requires little space to produce beautiful work. The natural beauty of the materials - wood, pigment and hand-made paper are all retained and enhance each other. A great choice for Artists or any creative person!

 

no-poisons no-press

 

 

 

Terry McKenna Mokuhanga

This is a short video showing teacher Terry McKenna making one of his mokuhanga...

You can find more about Terry's work on his dedicated website at www.egaku.com.au

Kyoto Mokuhanga & Tokyo Ukiyo-e Tours

kyoto torii

 Find out more about these exciting, small-scale and unique tours

Tokyo & Nagano Brochure (PDF)

Kyoto Mokuhanga Brochure (PDF)

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are you running classes at later dates?

Yes! Our aim is to make Mokuhanga popular and accessible in Australia, so we would like to run as many courses as we can. This means repeating workshops and weekly courses. If you can't make an already scheduled weekend or weekly time, keep in touch by email, or keep watch on the website for upcoming courses as they are announced.

Do I have to make a Japanese style print?

No - you can make any style of image you prefer! Although the technique is "Traditional Japanese", your image can be anything you like, from realistic to abstract, single colour to multi colour..

 

The technique and medium lends itself to certain kinds of images - simplified imagery with clear blocks of colour is easiest to achieve for the beginner and fine lines and complicated combinations is better for the more experienced mokuhanga artist.

 

For your first print we will stress the importance of starting simply, as it is easy to become frustrated with a complicated piece in the beginning as you are just coming to terms with carving and printing.

 

 

I have some lino tools, are they OK to use?

Yes and er... no, it depends on the quality of the tools. You can carve with any tools that are sharp enough, and the Shina plywood we supply is relatively soft and easy to carve. With the cheapest tools it is not possible to get a sharp edge and you will soon become frustrated with these. It is better to use tools of higher quality - you will get better results, carving will be easier and more enjoyable, and you will progress quicker.

 

By all means bring the tools you have to a course and we can look at them and give our opinion. In course you can trial the student sets we sell and see if they are suitable for you.

 

 

My hands are not strong, can I carve the wood?

Some older people with weak hands or people with physical problems (such as RSI) find the intensive carving work difficult. If you are not used to using your hands, a weekend workshop can leave your hands tired / sore from holding and pushing the chisels.

 

If you think it is a problem you will need more time and less pressure to complete the carving and a weekly workshop might be more suited for you. The Shina plywood is relatively soft and with care you can carve a simple project. In the workshop we also have some time to assist your carving.

 

In the end it is your decision if you would like to try.

Will it take long to become good at Mokuhanga?

How long... well it depends how much you practice like every kind of skill. You could do one course to get the basics and then practice on your own, continuing to make your own mokuhanga, or you could do several courses and move on to more advanced levels. In reality it will take some time to fully grasp the fundamentals, become competent and consistent. Also you may have an existing skill set that you can apply - printmaking skills, art skills with other media, woodworking skills..

 

So, sorry there is no easy answer.

 

If you have never printed before it is realistic to aim for a simple, finished print from one course, but you will then need further practice or courses to develop the skills you need to make multi-colour prints with quality printing and registration and few or no errors.