Aug. 24, 2021 UPDATE

Experience wood engraving at Kyoto Handicraft Center near Heian shrine!

Sharing Kyoto's writers went to experience wood engraving, and it was a bit difficult but fun all the same!
Shiho[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ]

You can have valuable experience of crafting traditional handiwork at Kyoto Handicraft Center, a few minutes away from Heian shrine. I, Sharing Kyoto member Shiho, took part in Japanese craft!

The thing I bore a part was “wood engraving.” We call it “Mokkoga.” Paint a printing block, and rub on paper by scraping. Do the same thing 6 times with different color in order. Then one picture completes. This is similar to Ukiyoe pictures that famous artists Hokusai Katsushika or Sharaku Toshusai drew in Edo era. It is impressive we can make in the same way that great figures did 300 years ago. I was nervous to try color wood engraving for the first time, and how it went…?

Kyoto Handicraft Center

This is Kyoto Handicraft Center located in north of Heian shrine.

The second floor

The second floor is for handicraft trial. Colorful pigments we are using for wood engraving are lined up. I am very excited as I love painting.

Wear an apron

Wear an apron not to get a mess. Don’t worry they have it for you.

Now I’m ready!!


First, you learn woodcut itself, how to print it and history by video. Content was all English, good for international visitors!

instructions with English and illustration

Watching a video isn’t enough…no worries! You can also get instructions with English and illustration. Please look at this cute paper when you get lost (staff help you properly, just enjoy!).


There are two kinds of paper, thinner paper Shintori-no-Kogami (right) which may be hard for beginner. Other one is thick drawing paper (left) and easy to handle.

Each person can use two sheets of paper, so it is recommended to use regular paper first, and try Shintori-no-kogami next.

elegant maiko girl

Two patterns are prepared, one is elegant maiko girl, and the other one is red Torii gate of Heian shrine. Which should I paint first…I chose maiko picture. Hope it’s going to be good…

A staff member helped me

A staff member helped me so nicely! She actually shows you step by step. Apply color on a block and spread it with a brush.

put paper on the block to print.

Then, put paper on the block to print. There is a notch at the bottom left to adjust a position. Keep your forefinger on the paper like the photo, and start printing. Rub with Baren, the special item for woodcut printing.

I am carefully listening to the lecturer

I am carefully listening to the lecturer, whispering to myself “one time only, cannot fail…!”

My turn comes

My turn comes! A tense moment…

Don’t press too much

Rub across the paper vigorously. Don’t press too much. It may tear the sheet (case of thinner paper shintori-no-kogami. This is why regular drawing paper is recommended!). How was my debut?  

Look at the first color

Look at the first color! Oh, what is this? Well, is it meant to be like this? No need to worry if you don’t get what it is because this is the fascination of wood engraving! Uninteresting dots gradually form a “picture.” Now begin second color.


Yellow. What is it going to be?

still something

Um…not yet, still something. Next!

How about it?

How about it?

Chic maiko girl

Getting there…! Chic maiko girl almost appears…! Finish up with last color.

Too early to relax!

Black is the best pigment to perfect an entire painting! Too early to relax!

Here it is!

Here it is!

Imperfect ink makes it look quaint! Not bad as a debut!

I’m an almost professional!

The second wood engraving is Torii gate of Heian shrine. I’m an almost professional!

how beautiful Torii gate is

Not like maiko girl paint, the first color of black give an image of the whole picture. By the way, how beautiful Torii gate is.

rub and print

Keep working without a stop. I got used to it as it’s the second time. Apply, spread, rub and print, easy!

My Heian shrine!

My Heian shrine!

Torii gate stands well in the white background, which is lovely! I want to tell my friends that I crafted this and they would love me!


You can take them home with a special bag after drying.

Say cheese!

Say cheese! The shot of me with two wood engraving printings, I look proud. Fun!

No only you can print woodcut, but also try many other handicrafts at Kyoto Handicraft Center. The place was established for international visitors, no wonder everybody speaks English! Make your debut casually. Heian shrine and Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art are nearby so you can visit before or after. Definitely fun!

A comment from the staff
Woodcut printing made by repeatedly pulling color was something I had never experienced. I enjoyed thoroughly without trouble because they helped me very kindly. I cannot forget the process how the picture completed. Now I found it so attractive. How about you make a great memory here? It also has souvenir floor or Japanese cuisine floor, full of Kyoto contents. Just looking is fun to visit.

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