Nishiki-e (錦絵 nishiki-e ) (lit. "brocade picture") refers to Japanese multi-colored woodblock printing; this technique is used primarily in ukiyo-e. It was invented in the 1760s, and perfected and popularized by the printmaker Suzuki Harunobu, who produced a great many nishiki-e prints between 1765 and his death five years later.
Previously, most prints had been in black-and-white, colored by hand, or colored with the addition of one or two color ink blocks. A nishiki-e print is created by carving a separate woodblock for every color, and using them in a stepwise fashion. An engraver by the name of Kinroku is credited with the technical innovations that allowed so many blocks of separate colors to fit perfectly onto the page where they ought to, relative to one another, in order to create a single complete image.
This style and technique is also known as Edo-e (江戸絵 edo-e ), referring to Edo, the capital city of the time.
Nishiki-e in Meiji era
In the Meiji period, various nishiki-e illustrated new fashions, imported goods, events, the railroad, and other new topics. "Newspaper nishiki-e" (新聞錦絵, shinbun nishiki-e) were very popular among the public during this period. Print designers created nishiki-e on topics picked up from the newspapers such as Tōkyō Nichinichi Shinbun or Yūbin Hōchi Shinbun. 
Woodblock prints soared in popularity during the first Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), with 3,000 prints produced during this 9-month period. These prints generally glorified the Japanese army while denigrating the Chinese. And the bright colors in the prints, exciting scenes, and inexpensive nature made them a good alternative to the black and white photographs of the time.
- Forbes, Andrew ; Henley, David (2012). Suzuki Harunobu: 100 Beauties. Chiang Mai: Cognoscenti Books. ASIN: B00AC2NB8Y
- Munsterberg, Hugo (1957). "The Arts of Japan: An Illustrated History." Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Company.
- Paine, Robert Treat and Alexander Soper (1955). "The Art and Architecture of Japan." New Haven: Yale University Press.
- Media related to Nishiki-e in Meiji period at Wikimedia Commons
- Ukiyo-e Caricatures 1842-1905 Database of the Department of East Asian Studies of the University of Vienna. All pictures of the database are nishiki-e.
- Nishiki-e collection from Edo-Tokyo Museum
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