Digital Archiving Printing Blocks and Establishing Woodblock Bibliography

  • Takaaki Kaneko
Keywords: Printing block, Edo period, Digitalization, Database, Bibliography


A great number of printed books were published in Japan after the establishment of commercial publishing in the Edo period (1603–1867). Even though it is well-known that most of the books were printed by means of woodblocks, these printing blocks have not been studied in detail because they are difficult to access and physically handle. However, digitization of the printing blocks revolutionizes research and also facilitates information sharing. This article will present a new method of digitizing printing blocks and archiving them in an online image database. The article will also draw attention to what kind of information we can retrieve from the blocks, especially circumstances of publishing that conventional bibliographies based on the printed books cannot reveal.