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Utagawa Kuniyoshi Prints: Unlock the Mystique of Edo Art with Free Downloads

Embark on a journey through time with the stunning Utagawa Kuniyoshi prints. Download these captivating masterpieces of Japanese art for free and immerse yourself in the rich cultural tapestry of Edo, Japan.

There are moments in life that leave an indelible mark on our hearts and minds, and for me, it was an encounter with the grace and beauty of Japanese culture at the “Kimono: Kyoto To Catwalk” exhibition at the V&A Museum. I was enthralled as I walked through the exhibition halls with exquisite kimonos. Each fabric whispered stories of a bygone era and the artistry woven through generations.

Then, as I turned a corner, I stumbled upon a series of Utagawa Kuniyoshi prints. These weren’t kimonos, but the sheer energy and dynamism in these prints were electric. The fierce samurai, ethereal landscapes, and intriguing characters seemed to leap out of the paper. I was particularly drawn to a print depicting a warrior clad in an elaborately designed kimono. The details were astounding; Kuniyoshi had breathed life into the fabric within a two-dimensional frame!

I walked out of the V&A Museum that day with my head in a whirlwind of colors, figures, and stories. The kimonos and Kuniyoshi’s art had touched a chord within me. I felt an unwavering desire to share this treasure trove with others.

And so, here we are. I’ve assembled a collection of Utagawa Kuniyoshi prints that are an ode to an extraordinary artist and a bridge to a fascinating culture. These prints are available for free download and in the Public Domain.

Who Was Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Utagawa Kuniyoshi was a Japanese artist who lived during the Edo period, which stretched from the early 17th century to the mid-19th century. Kuniyoshi was a master of ukiyo-e, a genre of art that translates to “pictures of the floating world”. These woodblock prints and paintings often depicted themes ranging from sumptuous landscapes and dramatic theatre scenes to beautiful courtesans and daring samurai.

Kuniyoshi was mainly celebrated for his warrior prints. His depictions of samurai, often embroiled in battle or heroically posed, were visually stunning and embodied the courage and code of honour central to the samurai culture. His vivid colours, dynamic compositions, and attention to detail breathed life into these formidable characters.

But the allure of Utagawa Kuniyoshi’s art doesn’t stop with warriors. He was also a whimsical storyteller. Delightful pieces in his repertoire allude to Japanese folklore, mythology, and the supernatural. He had a knack for infusing humour into his work, and some of his pieces can be seen as precursors to modern manga.

Free vintage Utagawa Kuniyoshi Japanese woodblock prints

What is Ukiyo-e

Ukiyo-e (pronounced oo-kee-yo-eh) translates to “pictures of the floating world.” The term “floating world” here is like a metaphor for everyday life’s pleasures and ephemerality. Back then, people were all about living in the moment – thinking of enjoying the beauty of cherry blossoms, attending a Kabuki theatre, or maybe indulging in some sushi at a bustling marketplace.

So, how did they capture these fleeting moments? With Ukiyo-e, of course! These were woodblock prints and paintings that gave a snapshot of Japan’s daily life and culture during the Edo period. The prints are often bold and vibrant, and the details are delicious!

Ukiyo-e didn’t just depict everyday life; they were like the Instagram of the Edo period. Everything from famous actors, beautiful geishas, and sumo wrestlers to folklore and landscapes found their way onto these prints. They were also super trendy – you could find them in shops, tea houses, and pretty much anywhere.

Ukiyo-e had a significant influence on Western art. When these prints made their way to Europe in the late 19th century, they influenced the art nouveau and Impressionist movement, and even today, you can see their echoes in modern art and pop culture.

How To Download The Utagawa Kuniyoshi Prints

These vintage Japanese woodcut prints of Utagawa Kuniyoshi are all in the Public Domain. Which means you are free to print and use them as you wish.

Just click on the title of the Japanese woodcut print you want to download. A large copy of the image will open in a new tab on your device. If you right-click on that print, you can save it to your hard drive.

Woodblock Prints 1-10

1. Tamaya uchi Usugumo

The title of this print translates as “The Courtesan Usugumo of Tama-ya“. One of Utagawa Kuniyoshi’s later Japanese woodcut prints dated 1830.

Blue Japanese woodcut print

2. Actor With Fan Under Cherry Blossom

Cherry blossoms are very symbolic in Japanese art and culture. It’s the blossom’s beauty and transience which associates them with mortality and graceful and readily acceptance of destiny and karma.

Kabuki actor Japanese woodcut print

3. Bando Mitsugoro On The Stairs

Bando Mitsugoro was a Kabuki actor. Kabuki is a classical Japanese dance-drama.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi woodcut prints

4. Three Actors at A Folding Screen 1

The next three Japanese woodcut prints are part of the same series and displayed together as one.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi woodcut prints 3 actors 1

5. Three Actors at A Folding Screen 2

Three actors folding screen 2

6. Three Actors at A Folding Screen 3

Three actors folding screen 3

7. Ichikawa Danjūrō VII as a Peddler

Ichikawa Danjūrō VII (1791 – 1859) was a Japanese kabuki actor specialising in male hero (tachiyaku) roles, said to be the greatest of the 19th century.

Ichikawa Danjūrō VII as a Peddler

8. Iwai Hanshiro V

This is another woodblock print of a Japanese actor.

vintage Japanese woodcut prints by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

9. Mimasu Gennosuke

A traditional Japanese ukiyo-e style illustration of an actor Mimasu Gennosuke in the role of Naniwa Jirosaku.

Japanese woodcut prints of famous kabuki actors

10. Japanese Woodcut Print of Actor Nakamura Shikan II

Japanese woodcut print of actor Nakamura Shikan II

Woodblock Prints 11-20

11. Kanadehon Chūshingura

A scene from act 7 of the play Kanadehon Chūshingura showing Onoe Baikō IV in a female role as Okaru (left) imploring Sawamura Sōjūrō V as Ōboshi Yuranosuke (right), a Kudayū crouched in hiding behind them.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi Prints Kanadehon Chūshingura -

12. Tamaya Yoji

The actor Tamaya Yoji.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi Prints - Tamayo Yoji

13.  Nakamura Utaemon IV

Another Japanese actor woodcut print.

Nakamura Utaemon IV

14. Tamakatzura Tamatori Attacked by An Octopus

In Japanese culture, the Akkorokamui is a gigantic octopus-like monster from Ainu folklore, equivalent to the Nordic Kraken, which supposedly lurks in Funka Bay in Hokkaido. It is said that its enormous body can reach sizes of up to 33 meters (108 feet) in length.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi Octopus

15. Omatsu Attacking Akabori Mizuemon on a Boat with a Sword

Japanese woodcut print

16. Genjigumo ukiyo-e awase

The great 12th-century general Taira no Tomomori ties himself to an anchor to die by his hand and not from enemy action as defeat nears in the famous sea battle at Dan-no-Ura (1185). In “The Tale of Genji,” Lady Murasaki insists on making arrangements for her funeral rites as her death approaches.

Japanese woodcut prints

17. Hare 

The Kabuki actor Bando Shuka I in a female role as Kosan (left) tucking some papers into her robe, and Ichikawa Danjuro VIII as Kingoro (right) seated in the background, from the kabuki play Kosan Kingoro, performed at the Nakamura theatre in the ninth month of Kaei 3 (1850).

This woodcut print is titled hare as there are a circle of hares (rabbits) in the top left corner.

Hare by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

18. Goat

An unidentified actor as Iwanaga Souren (left), with red make-up, sitting under a banner with a paulownia leaf crest, and an unknown actor as the courtesan Akoya (right) wearing a robe decorated with a Chinese lion.

You will notice a goat in the top left corner, hence the title of this print.

Utagawa Koniyoshi prints

19. Cats

If you check there are some cats playing in the top left corner Japanese woodcut print.

Cats Japanese woodcut prints

20. Clearing Weather at Yamatoya

Clearing Weather at Yamatoya

Prints 21-30

21. Kichisaburō Arashi III

Kichisaburō Arashi

22. Moso Hunting for Bamboo Shoots

22. Moso Hunting for Bamboo Shoots

23. Yoko Protecting his Father From a Tiger

You will find more tiger drawings and art here.

Yoko Protecting his Father From a Tiger

24. Mongaku Doing Penace at the Nachi Waterfall

Nachi Falls is one of the best-known waterfalls in Japan. With a drop of 133 meters (and 13 meters wide), it is the country’s tallest waterfall with a single uninterrupted drop.


25. Opening Shellfish at Fukagawa

Fukagawa is an area in KōtōTokyo.

Opening Shellfish at Fukagawa

26. Woman in Boat on Sumida River

The Sumida River is a river that flows through central Tokyo, Japan. It branches from the Arakawa River at Iwabuchi and flows into Tokyo Bay.

(This image was used for the DIY tea light lanterns craft)

Woman in Boat on Sumida River - Utagawa Kuniyoshi Prints

27. Hatsuhana Doing Penance Under the Tonosawa Waterfall

Hatsuhana Doing Penance Under the Tonosawa Waterfall

28. Tokiwa and Her Children Escaping in The Snow

“During the civil conflict of 1159, known as the Heiji Rebellion, the father of Yoshitsunewho was to grow into one of Japan’s most celebrated samurai heroes, was killed. In the wake of this tragedy, the boy’s mother escaped with him and his two brothers to the mountains during a snowstorm.

In this heartrending scene, the artist Kuniyoshi conveys the woman’s strength and maternal tenderness as she leans against the wind. The tiny shoes of the toddlers she protects are visible under her cloak. One of the boys would grow to become the founder of the Kamakura Shogunate and the other, Yoshitsune, would famously defend the honour of the Minamoto clan.” 

Tokiwa and Her Children Escaping in The Snow

29. Nichiren in Snow at Tsukahara, Sodo Province

Nichiren was a Japanese Buddhist priest of the Kamakura period (1185–1333), who developed the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism.

Nichiren in Snow at Tsukahara, Sodo Province

30. Landscapes and Beauties- Feeling Like Reading the Next Volume.

Landscapes and Beauties- Feeling Like Reading the Next Volume

Other Japanese Prints

If you are looking for other Japanese woodblock prints, check out the charming prints of Helen Hyde and the beautiful birds of Ohara Koson.

Check out the old Japanese art prints from the Shin-Bijutsukai, Watanabe Seitei and vintage Japanese patterns for Japanese patterns and design

One of Utagawa’s woodcut prints is in this collection of elephant drawings, illustrations, and a few more with these owl drawings.

If you enjoyed these Japanese woodcut prints of Utagawa Kuniyoshi, you should check out the fantastic old Japanese photos of Kusakabe Kimbei and the birds and flower paintings of Kono Bairei.

30 Free Utagawa Kuniyoshi prints

Mary Lee Smyth

Saturday 1st of January 2022

Happy 2022!

I have just found your site. Thank you so much for all the work you put into this wonderful space! I too have an affinity for maps. I also create hand cut wooden jigsaw puzzles. The combination of a vintage map image with my hand cut jigsaws are a very challenging match indeed! Here is my website if you would like to see what I do. Thank you again for your generosity. Wishing you and your loved ones peace, prosperity and good health in the future,

Sincerely, Mary Lee Smyth


Monday 3rd of January 2022

Thank you, your jigsawslook great. Happy New Year!

Naush Samama

Saturday 31st of October 2020

Fascinating ! Thank you so much for joining us at Meraki Link Party. Much love Naush


Saturday 31st of October 2020

Thank you, glad you enjoyed them.


Saturday 31st of October 2020

They are really awesome. Thanks for sharing.


Saturday 31st of October 2020

Thank you.

Kathy A

Friday 30th of October 2020

Thank you so much for finding these for us. I can think of lots of projects to use these for besides just framing them. I'd love to make several screens for my dollhouse people using them!


Saturday 31st of October 2020

That sounds like a wonderful project. Yes they are great images to craft with.


Monday 26th of October 2020

I love Japanese woodcuts! The colors and patterns and the occasional ombre effects... Beautiful.


Wednesday 28th of October 2020

Thank you, yes they are beautiful.