Japanese woodblock printing was wildly successful in both China and Japan between the 17th and 19th centuries. Similar to Western woodcutting, the Japanese version involves water-based inks rather than oil-based. This allows the prints to feature a wide variety of colors, glazes and transparencies that would not be possible with oil paint.
The awesome designs you see below were all created using the woodblock printing technique, which is not as complicated as it may seem. First, an image is drawn on Japanese washi paper before being glued onto close-grained wood, usually cherry. Then the wood is chiseled away based on the drawings and brushes are used to fill in color. Finally, the woodcut is pressed into paper, like a stamp, resulting in images like the ones you see below. The printing style was popular for nearly 300 years, so tons of variations developed that give each piece a unique appearance.
Check out some of our awesome woodblock printing socks below and get your hands on (or feet into) a piece of Japanese history!