About Gyotaku Printing

Gyotaku(gyo-tah’-koo) is the Japanese art of making art prints directly from fish.

In this art form, the ACTUAL FISH is used to print an impression onto paper or fabric, reproducing the exact features and characteristics of the actual fish. In Japanese, "gyo" translates to "fish" and "taku" translates to "rubbing" for a print or an impression. Put together, the words refer to the technique of fish rubbing. Gyotaku began in Japan during the mid 1800s by Japanese anglers as a way to preserve the memory of a prize catch. Today, Gyotaku is an alternative to taxidermy and mounting fish, and has become a recognized form of fine art.

There are two basic methods of gyotaku that exist, the direct method (chokusetsu-hou) and indirect method (kansetsu-hou). Direct printing is a method in which the artist applies paint to the surface of the fish. The fish is then covered with the fabric or paper and carefully pressed to produce an image. Indirect printing is a method in which the artist pastes fabric or paper onto the fish using rice paste or water. Then, the artist applies paint onto the fabric using a silk-covered cotton ball called a "tampo", rather than the fish. Each technique yields a different style of painting but both are meant to result in a striking representation of the subject.

Eiji uses the direct printing method. After the initial impression is made, he uses watercolors to add life and detail to the printed fish. The direct method not only preserves the fine details of the fish, but it also allows him to print the fish and get it back on ice quickly so it can still be eaten after the printing is finished.

Eiji will also typically clean the fish and freeze it for the customers' commission so that they can have their print and enjoy their special catch on the dinner table as well.
Each of Eiji's Gyotaku art works are created using non-toxic water color on fabric.

Canadian Gyotaku Art – British Columbia Gyotaku Art – Vancouver Island Gyotaku Art