About This Site

This reference guide documents examples of artist signatures on Japanese woodblock prints from approximately 1680 to 1912. The images are drawn chiefly from the digital resources of institutional collections. Most of the signatures are drawn from prints broadly classed as ukiyo-e, though I have also included samples from Shijō surimono and prints from other traditions.

This site is made available as a courtesy to scholars and collectors, and is intended for non-commercial use only.

Some of the inspiration for this project came from two sites that I found very helpful earlier in my ukiyo-e research. The first is Hans Olof Johansson's venerable Signatures of Ukiyo-e Artists, and the second J. Noel Chiappa's companion to James Self and Nobuko Hirose's Japanese Art Signatures: A Handbook and Practical Guide, Japanese Woodblock Print Artists' Names. In addition, John Resig's Japanese Woodblock Print Search has been invaluable.

Methods and Sources

Since the original motivation of this resource was to create a "signature look-up" tool, the samples are organized by ("art name") rather than by artist.

The name information at the left of each entry shows the "canonical" form of the name, while the text transcription next to each signature attempts to reproduce the original text as closely as is possible within the constraints of the Unicode character set. This means that both kyūjitai and shinjitai forms of kanji characters will be found. Likewise, signatures containing hentaigana will be transcribed using the equivalent modern hiragana in the name section and the kanji from which it is derived in the signature section.

An authoritative phoenetic reading of the kanji found in each signature may not always be discoverable; where I have been unable to find one, I try to offer an educated guess.

In order to make date filtering as useful as possible, I have prefered artist "activity" dates to "life/death" ones. Where only "life/death" dates are available, I have assumed a working career from age 18 to death; where only a death date is available, I have assumed a working career of 35 years.

See also the lists of print sources cites and linked web sources, as well as the key to the signature sources used in this project.

Contact

Please send any comments, questions, or corrections to alec@ukiyoesig.net. If you have a correction, please include relevant sources in your message.

For general questions about ukiyo-e prints, including requests for idenfication, I recommend posting your query to the Ukiyo-e Q & A forum, hosted by Hans Olof Johansson.

Site by Alec Wood, 2019