Gyotaku: Traditional Japanese Art of Fish Printing
How the Traditional Japanese Art of Fish Printing Inspired a Modern Art Form.
Gyotaku was once a way to brag about the size of your catch.
NAOKI HAYASHI’S FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH gyotaku—the traditional Japanese art of fish printing—was anything but traditional. It was the early 1970s, and a few local families had taken their four-wheel drive vehicles out to some Oʻahu beaches to camp out and catch some fish. As an elementary-school kid, Hayashi’s job was to scale and gut the fish so there would be no mess at home. The adults were nearing the end of a successful day of fishing, meaning they were deep into a bucket of beer, sake, and soju. As Hayashi dug around inside a Hawaiian soldierfish for its red-frilled guts, an older family friend grabbed the fish from him, dipped it into rusty bucket full of red paint (a hand-me-down from the Korean War) and slapped the fish against Hayashi’s bare chest. “This is gyotaku,” the older man said, pointing to the distinct red imprint.
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