A small museum in Kyoto has a sign that everyone can appreciate. It’s called the Ukiyoe Small Museum and is owned by Ichimura Mamoru. The hours are flexible.
A simple and charming sign is located outside the front door of the museum that states, in clear terms: “Open when I wake up and close when I must go to sleep. When I’ve had enough the store is closed.” This poem was originally written in Japanese, but it was translated by a tourist to English in 2003. It has since been praised internationally.
It is risky to enter the Ukiyoe Small Museum. However, those who do manage to make it, in the end, find the experience to have been worth the effort. Inside, there are woodblock prints created by Mamoru in the traditional ukiyo-e style, a genre that was originally produced from the 17th through the 19th century in Japan. It is also known as “pictures from the floating world”, and depicts everyday scenes in rich colors and flat compositions. This is an iconic piece of art.
While the ukiyo_e genre has lost its popularity in the 20th century but artists such as Mamoru have maintained the tradition. As a teenager, he learned the technique from his grandfather and has made it his lifetime’s work to produce these types of prints. He’s one of only 50 ukiyoe artists remaining in Japan. The museum offers a glimpse into his studio and the traditional process of making these prints.
Part artist studio, part museum, it’s run by Ichimura Mamoru who opens it when he likes and closes it when pleases.
Those lucky enough to enter get an intimate look at Mamoru’s work and the process of making a traditional ukiyo-e woodblock print.