Japanese arts and crafts explained

Why are Hokusai and Hiroshige so much more famous than other ukiyoe print artists in the West?
 
Apart from their obvious talent, relevant factors include the fact that they had absorbed Western influences and were therefore more accessible, and that they were active when the Japan boom was in full swing.

Why do most faces in ukiyoe prints seem so similar? 2nd attempt
 
They had to be reproduceable by the craftsmen who actually made the blocks etc

Why are so many traditional Japanese paintings of dull naff subjects like cats and birds?

Why do many famous Japanese styles of pottery come from Kyushu?

Most of them were based on techniques brought to Japan by Koreans, with whom Kyushu has always had a particularly close relationship

Why are netsuke (carved kimono toggles) so famous in the West as a representative Japanese art and yet so little known or seen in Japan?

For one thing, they were just seen as a craft not an art form in Japan and so were usually ignored. They probably became popular in the west because they could be picked up cheap and easily transported due to being small and difficult to break. In fact, a lot of the netsuke in the Victoria and Albert museum etc. were specifically produced for export.

Why are Western museums full of ukiyoe Edo era woodblock prints and Japanese ones just full of byobu folding screens etc?

Again, ukiyo-e was not considered art by the Japanese of the time. It could therefore be picked up very cheaply. In fact, the story is that the first ukiyo-e prints to be collected in Europe arrived as packing for pottery and were meant to be thrown away.

Why is shunga (sexual ukiyo-e Edo period woodblock prints) so famous in the West but so little seen in Japan?

They are so sexually explicit that it is possibly illegal to display them in Japan, although people have occasionally got away with small exhibitions of them.

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