Gyotaku, in which gyo means fish and taku means rubbing in Japanese, originated in Japan one hundred years ago to record fishermen's catches. From 1960s gyotaku began to be popular in America and has been recognized as a form of art since.


  • ink
  • paints
  • brush
  • rice paper
  • silk pad

How to

Direct method.   To remove the mucus, rub the fish with salt and then flush it with clear water, taking care don't rub scales off. Wipe the fish dry with a towel or the like. Fix the fish on a board and stuff its mouth with paper. Apply ink or paints over the fish with a brush - the color can either be realistic or abstract. Remove the fish to a clean place with clean newsprint underneath. Lay a sheet of rice paper over the fish, pressing the paper with your hand till the paints are transferred onto the paper. Please note that only raised areas catch the paint and that because rice paper is absorbent, so the rubbing tells itself from the back of the paper. Lift the paper off, and draw the fish eye with a fine brush. You can then inscribe or sign it.

Indirect method.   Dampen the rice paper with a spray bottle, folding the paper in palm size to let it evenly moistened. Spread and lay the paper over the fish, tapping it with bristle brush to sink the paper into all crevices. Wait for a few minutes if the paper is too wet. You will need two silk pads for this kind of rubbing. Pick up ink from a palette with one silk pad, and then tab the inked pad with the other till ink is evenly spread on both pads. When the paper appears half dry, tap the pad over the paper gently.

Ink rubbing

Home | Contact | Rice Paper