Mokuhanga in Fujikawaguchiko- First Impressions

by | Apr 16, 2023 | All


It’s been a hectic spring- lots of teaching and admin, and not as much art as I’d like. However, the semester culminated in an early departure and a trip Fujikawaguchiko, where I’m going to be doing a one-month residency studying Mokuhanga (traditional Japanese water-based printmaking). 

I’ll post updates and delve into the residency details over the next couple days- but a few early impressions of Japan…


I can’t offer too much depth about Tokyo- my impressions are filtered through a scrim of jetlag and night. Shinjuku (where I stayed the night) reminded me a bit of a torid affair between Amsterdam and Times Sqaure. Vibrant, a bit lurid around the edges, lots of Western dudes wandering around looking for the next chance. Great Ramen. Little nooks and side lanes here and there with soft green spaces, beautiful little cottages tucked between towering concrete behemoths. 

side street

The transit to Fujikawaguchiko by bus (two hours) was smooth overall- although I (foolishly?) have brought a paddleboard to Japan with my, and the strap blew out miditrip. It’s going to be ‘fun’ rucking that thing around moving forward…

On the outskirts of Tokyo, the mountains are soft and pillared. The contrast between occupied lowlands and seemingly feral heights is striking. I kept looking for Yubaba’s bathhouse.

The emergence of the great mountain (Fuji-san) caught me off guard. Somehow, mountains in photographs are always diminished. Fuji has a weight and power that I’d never grasped. It’s also hard to believe that it’s ‘real’, as it’s been filtered through so many prints, books, photos, films, box-covers, garments. The mountain looms and strides the horizon… and the populated valleys below only render it more imposing.

This is the view from my window in Kawaguchiko- not something I’m going to easily become acclimated to. More to come later.

David Roon

David Roon

An artist working at the interface of visual art and Conservation Biology, and a professor at the University of Idaho (Natural Resources and Society).

Mixed media and printmaking, with a strong grounding in ceramics. Exploring the interface between humans and the global biosphere (particularly coastal and marine ecosystems). Installation, sculpture, and ginormous functional pots.

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