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How Akhibara Premium Preserves the Past with Neo Ukiyo-e

Akhibara Premium is keeping the traditional art of Japanese woodblock printing alive through innovative neo ukiyo-e projects featuring modern themes like The Ghost in the Shell and Attack on Titan.
Last updated May 24, 2024


In the heart of Japan’s cultural artistry, Akhibara Premium emerges as a beacon of tradition and innovation. Known for its dedication to preserving the ancient art of ukiyo-e, the company has carved a niche for itself with its neo ukiyo-e collections, which bridge the historic with the contemporary.

The Essence of Ukiyo-e and Neo Ukiyo-e

Ukiyo-e, a term translating to “pictures of the floating world,” refers to the famous Japanese woodblock prints and paintings that flourished from the 17th through 19th centuries. These artworks typically depict landscapes, tales from history, theatrical creatures, and fleeting beauty. Neo ukiyo-e, as pioneered by establishments like Akhibara Premium, seeks to revitalize this traditional technique by infusing it with modern pop culture and anime themes. This modern twist not only preserves the unique craftsmanship of ukiyo-e but also makes it accessible and relevant to today’s audience.

Akhibara Premium’s Innovative Approach

At the core of Akhibara Premium’s approach is the collaboration of skilled artists, incuding designers, printers, and engravers. Each neo ukiyo-e project is a testament to their mastery of traditional methods while embracing contemporary aesthetics. Projects like The Ghost in the Shell ukiyo-e series showcase this blend spectacularly, offering artworks that combine the cyberpunk elements of the anime with the delicate, meticulous techniques of woodblock printing.

Attack on Titan Neo Ukiyo-e Series

Akhibara Premium’s Attack on Titan neo ukiyo-e series captures the raw emotion and epic scale of the anime. Originally released in February 2023, and with a new color version launched in November 2023, these framed ukiyo-e prints have quickly become a coveted item among collectors.

For those who aren’t aware, Attack on Titan is a huge Japanese manga by Hajime Isayama and an anime TV series. Both editions of 300 pieces each sold out in a single day, reflecting the high demand and the art’s resonance with fans.

Attach on Titan and Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre
Attach on Titan and Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre

The woodblock print draws inspiration from ukiyo-e master Utagawa Kuniyoshi‘s Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre. It features Eren, Mikasa, Armin and Levi facing the Colossal Titan. The updated edition boasts a more vivid color palette, including a fully colored background, enhancing the impact of the original.

For more details visit the Attach on Titan ukiyo-e project site.

The Ghost in the Shell NFT Ukiyo-e Project

The Ghost in the Shell Ukiyo-e and NFT set demonstrates Akhibara Premium’s innovative approach to merging traditional art forms with modern technology.

Ghost in the Shell ukiyo-e by Akhibara Premium
Ghost in the Shell ukiyo-e by Akhibara Premium

Also based on a famous Japanese manga series by Masamune Shirow and now a huge media franchise, the project is limited to an edition of 500 pieces. It includes a beautifully crafted print that Motoko Kusanagi, a key character from The Ghost in the Shell. It also pairs each physical print with a corresponding NFT, providing a digital proof of ownership. This blend of digital and traditional mediums is a forward-thinking move that appeals to both art collectors and tech-savvy audiences, ensuring the relevance of ukiyo-e in the digital age.

Ukiyo-e Craftsmanship Behind the Scenes

 Artist Shiozaki - image (c) by Akhibara Premium
Artist Shiozaki – image (c) by Akhibara Premium

The creation of neo ukiyo-e at Akhibara Premium is a meticulous and layered process that involves several skilled craftsmen. The process begins with the artist/painter, who designs the original artwork. This design is then handed over to the engraver, who meticulously carves the design into woodblocks—one for each color used in the final print. These woodblocks are critical as they will directly imprint the design onto paper.

Engraver Shoichi Kitamura - image (c) Akhibara Premium
Engraver Shoichi Kitamura – image (c) Akhibara Premium

Following the engraving, the printer takes over. This craftsman applies ink to the woodblocks and presses them onto fine Japanese paper. Each color requires a separate block and precise alignment to ensure the hues and details align perfectly, a technique known as registration. The process is labor-intensive and requires precision and patience. A single print might be pressed through the blocks multiple times to achieve the desired intensity and depth of color.

Printer Makoto Nakayama - image (c) Akhibara Premium
Printer Makoto Nakayama – image (c) Akhibara Premium

Finally, the publisher oversees the entire process, ensuring that each print meets the high standards of quality and authenticity expected of neo ukiyo-e art. This collaboration of different artisans ensures that each piece is not only a work of art but also a continuation of a storied craft.

Cultural Impact and Educational Commitments

Beyond commercial success, Akhibara Premium places a strong emphasis on educational initiatives. They offer workshops, exhibitions, and live demonstrations to educate the public about the historical and cultural significance of ukiyo-e art. Through these efforts, they ensure that the knowledge and skills of ukiyo-e are preserved for future generations.

Conclusion: Akhibara Premium’s Neo Ukiyo-e

Akhibara Premium’s neo ukiyo-e projects are more than just a revival; they are a dynamic legacy. By intertwining the traditional with the contemporary, Akhibara Premium not only preserves the historical art of ukiyo-e but propels it into the future, making it relevant and accessible in a globalized world.

Through their innovative approach, Akhibara Premium ensures that the “floating world” of ukiyo-e continues to float, not just in the tranquil rivers of the past but in the vibrant currents of the modern era.

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The Art of Zen original art prints

At The Art of Zen we carry a selection of our own hand-crafted original Japanese art prints in the ukiyo-e and Japandi style. Some of our best selling work is Mount Fuji wall art and Japandi wall art.

Add some zen to your space with brilliant original art from the Art of Zen shop.

Salman A

Salman A

Based in the vibrant city of Dubai, I thrive as a designer and filmmaker with a passion sparked in childhood by the thrilling adventures of UFO Robot Grendizer and Speed Racer. My journey took a deeper dive into the world of art through a profound fascination with Japanese culture, enriched by memorable times spent in Japan. Creativity pulses at the core of who I am. Connect with me for tailor-made design and film projects that bring your visions to life.


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