Back in May, I was lucky enough to visit Japan again with work and managed to find an hour in my schedule to finally visit the Tokyo Printing Museum. After finally navigating the ridiculously complicated train system with help from some native colleagues, I arrived at Edogawabashi station and walked to the Headquartes of the Toppan Printing Co, who run the museum.
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I had heard great things about the museum, and was expecting it to be very busy. Imagine my surprise to see that I was the only person in the whole museum. All these artefacts just for me. This also made it quite difficult to take images, presuming I might not be allowed to take photographs – loads of staff staring me down all of the time.
On entering the museum for the equivalent of about £5, and wary of time, I had a (very) swift walk around the exhibition hall. Taking in lithographs, Western & Japanese movable type, a replica Plantin press, and even a Linotype. I would have loved a lot more time to take in the exhibits properly but I was very impressed with the range on display and the English translations with each piece made it much easier to understand!
Now, the main draw for me was to see a real-life example of Gutenberg’s 42-line bible. There was only one original page on display, alongside a full replica bible, but my goodness it was beautiful. I had heard about the blackness of the black and the rubrication, which I only fully appreciated once I had seen it – gorgeous. Also on display was a replice set of the movable type that pretty much changed the world. Well worth the trip itself.
Tearing myself away from the 15th Century, I came across the workshop, which, due to lack of visitors, was closed to the public. I could still stare at all the goodies in the workshop through the wrap-around windows. Every wall was full of type, Japanese and Western wood and metal type. There were Albion and Columbian presses, proofing presses and about 10 Adanas. Probably my dream workshop. Outside the workshop were some free souvenir prints, printed in various gradients on the Albion (see headline image). I grabbed a couple at the insistance of one of the guides, and sadly left to go back to work.
On my way out I was handed a few business cards for the museum, which had really nice wood lettering on the reverse. All in all a great little museum, maybe not worth trekking all the way to Japan to see, but if you are in Tokyo I’d definitely recommend giving yourself a few hours to look around.