Edo Mokuhanga are woodblock prints that began with a black print that was then colored with a brush.
They evolved into "tane", "benie", and "urushie", eventually resulting in a printing technique where the colors were applied to the wood print and printed directly, followed by two and three-color prints (benizurie). Further in 1765, gold and silver began being printed, and secondary colors also began to be printed, and the multicolored style was established.
The techniques and skills used in Edo Mokuhanga wood block printing were established in the Edo period, and these techniques have continued to be improved upon, carrying on the present day where they are still produced mainly in the Tokyo region.
The images closely reflect the lifestyle of the common Edo people, in other words, the everyday lives of the people and their joys are carved, their dreams and wishes are printed up on Edo mokuhanga prints.
One set of woodblocks can produce several hundred copies, so another characteristic is that they can be made in mass quantities.
How to make
Natural cherry wood boards are used for the woodcut, and a carving artist carves it, then a printing artist applies ink to the finished woodcut, places a piece of handmade washi paper on it, then rubs the paper into the woodcut with a baren press made of bamboo bark and leaves.
If the cuts are too deep or too shallow, this can impact the printing, and outside factors such as temperature and humidity must be accounted for by adjusting the amount of ink used. The finished product is a result of long years of experience on the part of the carver and printer, making fine adjustments, which is why this process can never be automated. Some works use over 30 woodcuts to create a single print, which requires extremely delicate handiwork.