How Zuancho started her Journey
May 12, 2021

One day when I was visiting my grandmother, I went into our Kura, art and Kimono storage building, and looked around and saw this gray cube covered with dust was sitting in one corner. Because in Kura we only rely on natural light and the windows are very small, and the wall is very thick, I could not see very well. Soon the cube revealed that it is a stack of books. I pulled one and opened it in a waft of dust. I could not believe my eyes, but it was dark so I searched for a thin ray of light and again I looked at its pages. My heart was racing, but first I thought that I was lucky and pulled one book that was incredible, while others were old magazines or something. After perhaps 2-3 hours, covered with dust from head to toe, I realized that I found a mountain of designs there. I cleaned myself up, clutched a couple of books, and went to see my grandmother to get a permission to...well get all of them.

When I told her that I wanted them, she asked me "What on earth are you going to do with those old dusty books?! I was thinking of telling our gardener to get rid of them." !! I sat up and asked to make sure saying "does that mean, that I can have them…all of them ?"  She said "Yes of course."

After I cleaned them gently , and brought them here in this country, I started to do a research on them, and realized that they have not been studied nor recognized even in Japan. 


Well, some examples of zuancho seemed to be included in some kind of shipment to USA long time ago, perhaps right after the WW II. And I found them reproduced in books or shown in exhibitions, but they had always been kept under the broad umbrella of "Japanese wood block prints" without being recognized for their specificity, or uniqueness.


About the author

Misako Mitsui

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