– NEW BOOK –
Rankafu showcases for the first time an exceptional set of orchid woodblock prints from early 20th century Japan. Considered masterworks of botanical art, the Rankafu prints are visually stunning and reproduced here in full colour, showcasing the fine details of this spectacular art form. The process of making woodblock prints at this level of accuracy and artistic expression is among the most difficult of the decorative printing arts, making this body of work even more remarkable.
This book accompanies an exhibition of the same name at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, Kew Gardens, from 6 October 2018 – March 2019.
The authors tell the story of Shotaro Kaga, a pioneering horticulturist whose orchid collection and breeding programme started a craze in Japan that continues to this day. Kaga and his gifted orchid gardener, Kenkichi Goto were highly skilled orchid growers and developed hundreds of spectacular orchid hybrids. Kaga’s interest in orchids was sparked by his visit to Kew in 1910 where he first saw tropical orchids in the extensive greenhouses, and visited many famous orchid nurseries such as Sander & Sons, from whom he would buy hundreds of plants over the coming decades.
In 1946 Kaga published a set of woodblock prints to document his work and share the beauty of his flowers. Rather than using commercial colour printing to represent his orchids, Kaga turned to woodblock printing as he felt it was best suited to illustrate the natural state of his plants. He employed the finest artists, carvers, printers and materials to create this stunning legacy.
This book is the most comprehensive work to date on Rankafu and is unrivalled in its breadth of information and research. It is a beautiful book that will appeal to orchid fanatics and lovers of botanical art, as well as those with an interest in 20th century Japan and the artistic process of making Japanese woodblock prints.
With a foreword by Phillip Cribb, leading orchid expert and author of many orchid books.
Stephen Kirby is a geophysicist at the US Geological Society. He also lectures and does research at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan and the University College, London. Tropical orchids have held his attention for nearly 20 years, both as an amateur grower and a research associate investigating orchid biogeography at the Lankester Botanical Garden in Costa Rica.
Toshikazu Doi is a retired executive in the Pharmaceutical Division of the Kirin Beer Company. For 20 years he has been an active collector and researcher of Japanese woodblock prints of the late Meiji and Taisho eras (1870s – 1926) and especially the Shin Hanga era (~1915-1960). He is a member of the Mokuhankan woodblock print shop team whose mission is to help sustain the art and practice of woodblock printing.
Toru Otsuka is a retired researcher, writer and interviewer who worked for NHK Broadcasting Company in Tokyo and Osaka. He has for four decades collected photographs, documents, and other information relating to the Rankafu woodblock print story, amassing probably the largest privately-held collection in Japan