Archives for category: Kyoto

If you google the words “Kyoto” and “book art” together, the only relevant item likely to pop up is Seika Hanga, Kyoto Seika University’s printmaking department. Being so, I decided that I must go visit while I’m here. Although it is summer break and they are busy preparing for the next round of entrance examinations, Marie Yoshiki of the printmaking department very kindly agreed to meet with me and show me their department.

So on Tuesday I took the very scenic Eizan Line to Seika University. The train stops right in front of the main entrance.

The main entrance leads into an open plaza which gives way to this spectacular space.

I was quite impressed that the printmaking department had an entire building to itself. Spread out among its three floors are studios for woodcut, intaglio, lithography, screen printing, polymer printing, photography, digital art, papermaking, and of course, book art.

As I have mentioned, it is currently summer break and the department was mostly quiet and deserted. However, the Seika Hanga Passport (a guide to the printmaking department) has some photos of the students in action.

The only live action happening that day was in the papermaking studio where the more senior students were teaching the new students how to use the equipment.

After touring all the studios, Yoshiki-san and I returned to the staff room where she showed me books made by the students. They had been tasked with making one accordion book and one case-bound book.

Most of the books, besides the fact that they were handmade, resembled conventional illustrated books. A few, however, were beginning to make that transition into “book art,” especially the books in which the structure itself became an integral part of the concept and presentation. All in all, the books were well made and the content was thoughtful, and it was exciting to witness the potential of another generation of artists.

We were eventually joined by her colleague Kohei Takahashi and commenced discussing book art and the art scene in Kyoto. It was very illuminating to speak with local artists and has further shaped my (informal) analysis of the status of book art in Kyoto (and Japan) which I will share on the blog later.

Both Yoshiki-san and Takahashi-san gave me their personal recommendations for art spots (and shops) in Kyoto, and I’m hoping to visit at least a few of them before I leave.

More reports from the field soon! And meanwhile, you can check out the activities of Seika Hanga on their blog.

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[日本語]

Thanks to We Are One Japan and Café Frosch, Bound in Japan had an excellent workshop yesterday. We had participants from Japan, Germany, Holland, and Hong Kong who are currently living in Kyoto and Kobe.

It has been fascinating to observe each workshop and the way each person approaches his or her book. The Kyoto workshop may have been the first workshop where everyone adopted paper cutting as her main pictorial expression. Even so, the results were all different and clearly reflected each person’s individuality.

In the beginning it never occurred to me that I was teaching people how to make art. I simply thought that I was introducing people to a new form of art — book art. However, most of the participants are not artists and do not regularly engage in the act of creating. I find myself often talking about the process of art making.

Participants are sometimes frustrated that the reality of their handiwork does not match the image in their minds. I frequently find myself emphasizing that although the workshop is a one-day affair, art usually is not. And that change and evolution is part of what happens as you continue to work on your idea.

So I encourage them to view the workshop as a learning experience and use their newly gained skills to create even better and more satisfying books in the future. I am confident that there are some budding book artists leaving my workshops.


We Are One JapanCafé Frosch の協力をいただき、昨日バウンド・イン・ジャパンのワークショップを京都で開催しました。参加者は日本、ドイツ、オランダ、香港出身で今京都と神戸に住んでいます。

各ワークショップで指導をしながら、私はいつもいろんな角度から観察しています。参加者は同じ形の本を作りますが、皆さんは自分の本に対してそれぞれのアプローチを持ってとても面白いです。昨日のワークショップも例外なく、全員が切り絵にはまっていたけれど、その切り絵の作り方や使い方が異なってそれぞれの本に個性が出ました。

バウンド・イン・ジャパンのワークショップを行った最初は、私はアートを教えているとは思っていなかったです。ただ、皆にあまり知られていないアートの分野、つまりブックアートを紹介していると思っていました。しかし、参加者の多くはアーティストではないし、作り物もほとんどしていないようで、ワークショップで実際に本を作ってみると、自分の思った通りにいかなかったらショボンとする人もいます。

だから、私はものを制作するプロセスの話もよくしています。一日で作品を完成するのは難しいと決まっています。作品を出すのに、時間をかけて自分が納得するまで作ったり作り直したりするのは普通です。でも、ワークショップだから時間が限られています。

ワークショップでできた本はもちろん皆さんの宝物ですが、結果より経験として楽しんで学んだことを新しい挑戦で生かせばよいと皆に勧めています。バウンド・イン・ジャパンのワークショップを「卒業」した人の中では、ブックアートの世界へ歩み続ける人は何人かいるでしょう。