Reader Collection > Exhibitions > Japanese Bird Art, 1950 to present day Part 1 Woodblock prints by 100 artists














For hundreds of years the Japanese have used woodblock printing to produce printed art. To make an art print the picture design was first outlined on the surface of a block of wood. Areas surrounding this outline were then chiseled away. Next, ink was applied to the outline, followed by a piece of paper, and the back of the paper was rubbed to transfer ink to paper. To make a multi-colored print the piece of paper was placed sequentially on a series of wooden blocks each carved and inked differently to show a particular portion of the design.

The first woodblock-printed bird art was made in the early 18th century. These art prints were sold individually to provide a relatively inexpensive form of visual entertainment and they continue to be produced today for the same purpose. The number of artists who used woodblock printing to make bird art has increased substantially from the 18th to the 20th century, as shown in Table 1.


Table 1: Approximate number of Japanese artists making woodblock-printed bird prints which were sold individually (as opposed to prints sold together in a book) during sixty-year intervals between 1710 and 2009.


60-year interval






Approximate number of Japanese artists







This virtual exhibition presents examples of woodblock-printed bird art produced since 1950. A print by each of one-hundred artists represented in the Reader Collection of Japanese Art is included in the exhibition. Prints are arranged by the level of accuracy used by the artist to depict the bird subject, starting with the most accurate. Only a few artists (prints 1-10) depicted birds objectively (i.e., accurate shape and color). More artists (prints 11-68) depicted birds semi-objectively (i.e., semi-accurate shape and [or] color) while others (prints 69-100) depicted birds subjectively (i.e., inaccurate shape and color). The predominance of semi-objective and subjective depictions of birds in these prints reflects their purpose – to entertain.

For each print the name of the bird depicted is given along with the name of the artist, print title (if any) and print size.










 1   Ural owl (Strix uralensis) by Tōshi Yoshida, entitled two owls, 555 x 375 mm



2   Egret (Egretta sp.) by Tsukasa Yoshida, entitled sunset, 480 x 350 mm









3   Whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus) by Fumio Kitaoka, entitled swans on icefield, 925 x 635 mm



4   White-backed woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos) by Hirokazu Fukuda, entitled gentle rain, 325 x 250 mm









5   Narcissus flycatcher (Ficedula narcissina) by Shizuo Ashikaga, entitled narcissus flycatcher, 305 x 440 mm



6   Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus) by Okiie Hashimoto, 330 x 440 mm












7   Domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) by Yasuo Matsunaga, entitled waiting for a favorable chance, 175 x 220 mm



8   Mute swan (Cygnus olor) by Ray Morimura, entitled mute swan, 140 x 160 mm












9   Greater-spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) by Yasu Katō, 235 x 325 mm



10   Oriental greenfinch (Carduelis sinica) by Mihoko Kasamatsu, entitled early spring, 320 x 240 mm












11   Blakiston’s fish-owl (Ketupa blakistoni) by Keisaburō Tejima, entitled owl’s lake – winter moon, 450 x 610 mm



12   Long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis) by Izumi Fujita, entitled between the waves – long-tailed duck, 320 x 400 mm











13   Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sp.) by Masaharu Aoyama, 415 x 300 mm



14   Little ringed plover (Charadrius dubius) by  Gyōjin Murakami, entitled little ringed plover, 485 x 330 mm









15   Canada goose (Branta canadensis) by Gihachirō Okuyama, 245 x 120 mm



16   Red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis) by Tadashirō Fukui, entitled fly, 310 x 230 mm









17   Ural owl (Strix uralensis) by Takashi Hirose, entitled Ural owl, 150 x 200 mm




18   Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sp.) by Shirō Kasamatsu, entitled cormorant group, 275 x 400 mm











19   Ural owl (Strix uralensis) by Mikio Ohkawa, entitled Ural owl, 155 x 210 mm




20   Ural owl (Strix uralensis) by Fū Takenaka, entitled happiness, 230 x 320 mm 











21   Ural owl (Strix uralensis) by Kōhō Ōuchi, entitled blooming, 180 x 180 mm



22   Domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) by Hiromu Satō, 115 x 160 mm











23   Large-billed crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) by Yoichi Nakano, entitled crow B, 180 x 180 mm



24   Large-billed crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) by Masaaki Terada, 480 x 385 mm











25   Yellow-crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea) by Eiichi Kotozuka, entitled Chinese quince and yellow-crested cockatoo, 300 x 450 mm



26   Cockatoo (Cacatua sp.) by Kazuhiko Sanmonji, entitled my dreams, 270 x 350 mm












27   Red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis) by Tomikichirō Tokuriki, 275 x 295 mm



28   Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus) by Shirō Takagi, entitled spring bird, 310 x 430 mm











29   Red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis) by Yasushi Ōmoto, 160 x 105 mm



30   Rock dove (Columba livia) by Jun’ichirō Sekino, 180 x 140 mm









31   Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus) by Yoshiyuki Nakano, 360 x 275 mm



32   Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata) by Kaoru Kawano, 420 x 290 mm









33   Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus) by Shūzō Ikeda, 190 x 175mm



34   Daurian redstart (Phoenicurus auroreus) by Natsuo Ikegami, 110 x 110 mm











35   Bull-headed shrike (Lanius bucephalus) by Yutaka Ōkubo, 150 x 125 mm




36   White-backed woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos) by Hajime Ōkubo, 150 x 125 mm











37   Ostrich (Struthio camelus) by Hiroshi Ueda, 285 x 375 mm




38   Common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) by Tomoko Kyūki, entitled bird’s time – cuckoo, 100 x 150 mm











39   Scops owl (Otus sp.) by Kan Kozaki, 220 x 330 mm



40   Scops owl (Otus sp.) by Iwao Akiyama, 250 x 300 mm











41   Scops owl (Otus sp.) by Manjirō Asaka, 280 x 400 mm



42   Scops owl (Otus sp.) by Makoto Yumeda, entitled silence, 300 x 410 mm











43   Scops owl (Otus sp.) by Kunio Satō, entitled owl, 290 x 185 mm



44   Red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis) by Yūzaburō Kawanishi, entitled flight, 175 x 130 mm









45   Domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) by Shun’ichi Kadowaki, entitled self-carved woodcut rooster, 240 x 270 mm



46   Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sp.) by Totsurō Shimada, 320 x 335 mm












47   Domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) by Shigeru Takaku, 150 x 200 mm



48   Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) by Yūkichi Utakawa, 165 x 190 mm











49   Domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) by Seikō Kawachi, entitled getting up 1, 180 x 250 mm



50   Scops owl (Otus sp.) and pygmy woodpecker (Dendrocopos kizuki) by Kiyomi Moji, entitled home in the forest, 215 x 240 mm






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