Printing Museum’s primary object is to focus on printing as a communication media and introduce its culture and history. This is the corporate museum that was set up to commemorate a centenary anniversary of Toppan Printing CO., LTD.
In “Prologue Exhibition Zone,” a huge wall, which is seven meters high and forty meters wide, presents the six themes about the communication tools since before the establishment of printing technology, from Lascaux cave paintings to digital generation printing.
Next is “General Exhibition Zone” divided in five blocks. This area presents historically valuable prints. “Hyakumanto-darani (Million Sutra Pagodas)” in the Nara Period is the one from the beginning of printing history and said to be the world oldest existing print product. And “42-line Bible” is the most important work of Gutenberg’s letterpress printing. Also, there is a presentation showing how to produce Nishikie (multicolor woodblock printing) established in Japan.
In this museum, free workshop of letterpress printing is held at the studio “Printing House.” On the “Hands-on tour,” you will experience process of letterpress printing such as picking letters (Bunsen), setting type in a form (Shokuji), and printing.
In the studio, they have a rare printing machine, Stanhope printing press produced in 1810s. There are only about ten of them in the world. They have a shelf stored letters called as “Umadana.” There are hundreds of thousands of letters of Japanese and Western languages, also various sizes from 8 point to 24 point. They make products with letterpress printing machine and these products are sold at museum shop in the first floor.
Movie shows in VR theater is utilizing printing technology to reproduce a very realistic virtual space (showing on Saturdays, Sundays, and also on national holidays following Sundays).
From various directions, Printing Museum introduces a culture which was brought to mankind by printing. You may feel close to printing if you learn how books and magazines are made.
Apr 2018 Text: Ryoko Kuraishi Photo: Yasuo Yamaguchi