Ukiyo-e Search provides an incredible resource: The ability to both search for Japanese woodblock prints by simply taking a picture of an existing print AND the ability to see similar prints across multiple collections of prints. Below is an example print, click to see it in action.
This site is simply demonstration of what is possible using some of the data from a few museum collections. Better data, hundreds of thousands of additional images, and better search capabilities are forthcoming. Sign-up to be notified when additional features are ready.
Ukiyo-e Search was created by John Resig, a computer programmer and avid enthusiast of Japanese woodblock prints.
In his personal research he saw a need for a tool that did not exist: some way of easily finding similar prints across multiple collections simultaneously. Additionally, some way of finding prints simply by uploading a picture of a print seemed like an especially critical tool for researchers and collectors alike.
A ton of work has gone into making this search engine as easy to use as possible, for example: Artist names have been unified into a single name across collections (even taking into account artist name changes) – even translating the Kanji names on Japanese museum sites. Also the best possible images have been found on the museum sites (which can often be a task unto itself).
This site is currently serving as a demonstration of what’s possible but many improvements are still yet to be made.