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Distributed for Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew


Japanese Masterpiece Orchid Woodblock Prints

Winner of the 2020 Award of Excellence in Botanic Art and Illustration from the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries

Shotaro Kaga was a pioneering horticulturist and businessman whose orchid collection started a craze in Japan that continues to this day. In 1946, Kaga wanted to find a way to capture the beauty of his flowers in a way that went beyond the limits of regular botanical art. For this, he turned to woodblock printing, a process that was better able to illustrate the natural state of a plant. Kaga sought out the finest artists, carvers, and printers in all of Kyoto and from this group came some of the most spectacular woodblock prints ever created. After Kaga printed copies for his friends and associates, the plates went mostly unseen for more than sixty years. While some attempts were made to republish the prints, none have matched the quality and breadth of this new publication from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Rankafu is a fitting presentation of these remarkable woodblocks. Ninety-eight of the prints are reproduced here in full color, showcasing the fine detail of this art form. The research and information is unrivaled, making it the most comprehensive work to date on the woodblocks. It also tells Shotaro Kaga’s story and offers a window into Japanese history and culture in the first half of the twentieth century. It is a beautiful book that will appeal to orchid fanatics and lovers of botanical art, as well as those with an interest Japanese artistic history.

296 pages | 158 color prints, 22 halftones | 9 3/4 x 7 3/4 | © 2018

Art: Art--General Studies

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Rankafu is a remarkable book, which tells the story of a remarkable set of Japanese orchid woodblock prints from the early 20th century, and through them the story of three remarkable men.”


"These pictures are breathtaking; the authors should be commended for bringing them to an international audience."

The Orchid Review

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