J Noel Chiappa has produced a very useful glossary.

List of Ukiyo-e terms and print sizes (Wikipedia)

Ukiyo-e: Pictures of the Floating World (Wikipedia)

Sizes of Prints

By the late 18th century, a set of standard formats for printing blocks and paper were being used in the commercial production of woodblock prints. Edo publishing houses agreed to use two standard paper sizes: the ōbōsho sheet (390 x 530 mm) and the kōbosho sheet (350 x 470 mm). Half an ōbōsho sheet gave the 'standard-large' ōban sheet of 390 x 265 mm; half a kōbosho sheet gave the 'medium-large' koban sheet of 350 x 235 mm.

Each ōban or koban sheet could be further subdivided when printed with two or more designs. These smaller prints could then be sold individually more cheaply than the single prints made using a full-sized sheet.

[Forrer 2017 p.19-20]

350 x 235 mm; roughly halfway between chūban and ōban
350 x 117 mm; half an aiban by division along its long axis
265 x 190 mm; half an ōban by division along its short axis
390 x 132 mm; half an ōban by division along its long axis
235 x 170 mm; half an aiban by division along its short axis
350 x 78 mm; one third of an aiban by division along its long axis
about 560 x 250 mm
390 x 265 mm
about 580 x 320 mm; 'large ōban'
390 x 177 mm; two-thirds of an ōban by division along its long axis
130 x 265 mm; one third of an ōban by division along its short axis
about 260 x 230 mm; often used for surimono
190 x 132 mm; half a chūban by division along its short axis
horizontal/landscape orientation
vertical/portrait orientation
folding fan with a picture or illustration
rigid fan with a picture or illustration
prints of two or more images on one sheet; originally intended to be cut out and displayed separately
prints that were privately commissioned for special occasions such as New Year; produced in smaller numbers for a mostly educated audience (Wikipedia)

Prints from ōban sheets

390 x 265 mm

190 x 265 mm

190 x 132 mm

130 x 265 mm

265 x 390 mm

390 x 177 mm

390 x 132 mm

Prints from aiban sheets

about 350 x 235 mm

about 235 x 170 mm

about 350 x 117 mm

about 350 x 78 mm

Miscellaneous Paper Sizes

about 260 x 230 mm

about 560 x 250 mm

References: Memorial Catalogue, Strange, J Noel Chiappa, Forrer 2017

Types of Printing and Colouring

separate woodblocks are carved for every colour and used in a stepwise fashion (Wikipedia)
blue printing (more at J Noel Chiappa)
printing from a relief block in black ink to produce black-on-white texts and images
sumizuri with usuzumi
printing from two or more relief blocks in various shades of black ink
printing from multiple relief blocks in many saturated colours
printing from three relief blocks in black and a limited range of light tints, usually pink and gray
stenciling, applying colours by brush to sheets printed with line-only illustrations, using a separately cut stencil for each colour
printing areas in one colour of graduated intensity by the differential application of a pigment to a relief block
applying colours by brush to sheets printed with line illustrations
impressing patterns into a sheet of paper from an uninked relief block
The World of the Japanese Illustrated Book

Finding Japanese Prints on the Internet

John Resig's Japanese Woodblock Print Search contains over 200 000 prints. The site also has an extensive list of links to other sources of prints.

Ritsumeikan University image search (in Japanese) contains links to over 200 000 prints.
A list of artist names in Japanese can be found here.

Japanese Woodblock Prints on Other Websites

The Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III) Project
The Kuniyoshi Project
Catalogue Raisonné of the Work of Utagawa Hiroshige II
Catalogue Raisonné of the Work of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

J Noel Chiappa's website contains some excellent material on Hiroshige and Japanese woodblock printing in general.
Encyclopedia of Woodblock Printmaking
Tokaido hitoritabi (Japanese) A modern day walk along the route of the Tokaido highway. The site features Hiroshige's Tokaido print (Hoeido edition) of each station and photographs of the places as they are now.
@Cascadesssss has produced an interactive google map that shows the location of prints from a number of series by Hiroshige and Hokusai.


Wright's Tokaido (Independant Arts Production on YouTube, 36 min)
A documentary about an original album of Hiroshige’s 53 Stations of the Tokaido Road annotated by the celebrated American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

The Thirty-two Aspects of Women by Yoshitoshi (Independant Arts Production on YouTube, 27 min)
A new film by the creators of Wright’s Tokaido. A documentary on an original album of Yoshitoshi’s famous 32 Aspects. An educational, documentary style look at a recently rediscovered classic by one of Japan’s most controversial print artists.

The Old Tokaido (MN Films on YouTube)
Follow the footsteps of Hiroshige along the Tokaido, 175 years after he travelled between Tokyo and Kyoto.
Days: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19


I can be contacted at john_at_hiroshige.org.uk. Obviously replace _at_ with the obvious.

I have no Japanese, I don't work in the art business and I don't have any specialist art history training but I do try to make sure that all the information on the website comes from reputable sources.