The rationale for this book was to expose to a western audience artefacts made using woodblock which are largely unknown outside Japan. The western definition and knowledge of Japanese woodblock is fairly narrowly focussed on ukiyo-e and knowledge of other areas is limited. I chose to make the definition as broad as possible to allow for a selection of objects which would be unusual and challenging even for a Japanese audience. The provision of a cultural context to the selected objects was fundamental to the project. Research began with secondary English sources which were extremely limited as this subject has never been covered before. Japanese secondary sources provided extensive background information however in many areas it was insufficient to provide adequate analysis of the objects and their uses. Several research trips to Japan were required to conduct interviews with both practitioners and collectors to complete the investigation of the artefacts.
Picture research was particularly challenging due to the ephemeral nature of the objects of research. Due to their perceived lack of cultural status, few collections exist and indeed very few examples survive. I sourced examples from public and private collections in Japan, Germany, Holland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. My work in this area has formed the basis of my involvement in a recent AHRC funded large project ‘Forgotten Japonism’.