Detail map of 16, Ōgimachi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki, Japan Overview map of 16, Ōgimachi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki, Japan

A: 16, Ōgimachi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki, Japan

The First European Style Hand Press Arrives in Japan


The first European style hand press, using western style movable type and western style printing ink, arrived in Nagasaki, Japan for the use of the Japanese in 1848. Prior to this the first Western style movable type printing-press was brought to Japan by  the Tenshō embassy in 1590, and was first operated in Kazusa, Nagasaki in 1591. However, western style printing was discontinued in Japan after the ban on Christianity in 1614.

The Japanese favored woodblock printing as a way to reproduce their semi-cursive writing. Printing from woodblocks in East Asia remained an unmechanized, laborious process, in which printing was done on only one side of the paper because of the need to rub the back of the paper with a hand tool. This would have tended to spoil the other side of the paper, and the water-based inks used tended to soak through the paper. Unlike Western printing which had used oil-based inks since Gutenberg's original invention of printing ink, only water-based inks were used in Asia.

The first western style printing presses were introduced in Korea over 30 years later, in 1881-83.

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