New Tattoo Books, Traditional Publishing, and Japanese Woodblock Prints

New Tattoo Books, Traditional Publishing, and Japanese Woodblock Prints

The world is finally emerging from COVID-19, and so too are Kintaro Publishing! We’ve been getting busy again; though there were a lot of exciting developments happening behind the scenes during the lockdown. Now, we’re delighted to share our latest news with you.

We’d also like to take this chance to discuss traditional publishing (and why it’s so important), and examine the ancient art of Japanese woodblock prints, and their publishers.

The latest Kintaro news – the best tattoo book yet?

We’re excited to announce the forthcoming release of “The Book of Dragons” by Bill Canales. Bill first started tattooing back in 1992, and specializes in large-scale designs, inspired by traditional Japanese imagery. His studio, Full Circle Tattoo, is situated in San Diego, and he attracts clients from around the country, keen to get their a full-body or sleeve tattoo from this undisputed master.

Bill’s “Book of Dragons” is an exclusive, limited edition book, which will shortly be available to pre-order. This tattoo book is a joyous celebration of Japanese dragon design, exploring the symbolism behind these mythical beasts, and the different ways that they can be represented in traditional designs.

The book features 50 dragon images in total, showcasing Bill’s technique from initial sketch to finished drawing. It’s a hardcover book, which comes presented in a premium cloth-covered case. It’ll also have 50 horizontal fold-out pages, which are ideal for examining the artwork in greater detail.

If you’re a fan of Japanese tattoo design, then this is a must-have book for your collection. Bill Canales is one of the US’s most respected artists in this fields, and the subject-matter is of endless fascination to people around the globe.

Pre-order soon to avoid disappointment, as it will be a limited-edition print run. If you’re interested in Bill Canales’ images, some of our best tattoo prints have been designed by him – visit our website for more details.

Japanese woodblock print publishers – and the legacy they left behind

Woodblock printing was first introduced into Japan in the eighth century. By the eleventh century, it was the predominant form of printing in the country – and this remained the case for hundreds of years.

Artisans, from the series "An Up-to-Date Parody of the Four Classes" 

Source: The Met Museum 


The evolution of woodblock printing in Japan is truly fascinating. As the years went on, it became increasingly sophisticated, with publishers eventually creating entire books using this printing technique. Some of the world’s best-known Japanese artists, such as Hokusai and Kuniyoshi, produced their works via woodblock printing.  

There were a large number of Japanese woodblock print publishers in operation, especially during the Edo period. Unfortunately, not much is known about them – they’re shrouded in mystery! The only available information tends to refer to the address from which they operated, without giving any clues about their set-up, or the exact work that they produced.

New books were commissioned all the time during the Edo period, to keep up with demand. The Japanese public couldn’t get enough of the ‘light literature’ that the publishers produced, and the woodblock printers also made images for theaters, and guidebooks detailing the city’s pleasure quarters.

It’s believed that the publishers saw themselves as powerful; and thought that the artist owed much to them. Perhaps understandably, the artists believed the exact opposite – that they were the indispensable ones, and that the woodblock publishers should respect them.

Actor Ichikawa Danjuro as Takenuki Goro.

Source: National Institutes for Cultural Heritage, Japan 


While much has changed in the world of publishing since this time, some things remain the same. For example, publishers like Kintaro have passion for producing iconic Japanese designs – something we share with the Japanese publishers of the Edo period. Like them, we’re always on the look-out for fantastic artists to collaborate with, both for creating the best tattoo prints, and the best tattoo books.

Shining a light on traditional publishing

As you know, Kintaro Publishing is a traditional publisher, and we take great pride in producing top quality tattoo books and prints. Sometimes, customers ask us exactly what is a traditional publisher entails, and what makes us different from other publishers.

Ultimately, our focus is on producing stunning, high-quality books and prints. We’re not interested in mass-produced items; instead we prefer to create books for collectors, which will be treasured for years to come.

All our books are offset printed, and aren’t reproduced digital copies. We also like to offer a range of literature – from affordable quality titles, to exclusive handbound luxury editions. For us, it’s about exemplifying the beauty of tattoo design; whether it’s traditional Japanese images, or bold old school tattoos. Quite simply, we do it for love of the job, because we all adore the artistry and history associated with tattooing.

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Stockholm Ink Bash

We will be away for Barcelona Tattoo Expo till 13/10/2022. Please note that orders will be processed upon our return. We appreciate your patience and understanding on this matter.

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