Monday mood lifter: The Japanese have a word for it

By Gordon Rugg

In case your Monday morning needs some brightening, here’s a concept that might lift your day out of the rut.

It’s a Japanese art form called gyotaku. Literally translated, that means “fish rubbing”. It involves rubbing dead fish, but the Japanese name doesn’t bother to specify the deadness component.

The full explanation isn’t as surreal as the literal translation implies. Not quite.

Gyotaku involves coating a dead fish in calligraphic ink, and then pressing paper on it to make a life-sized print of the fish.

Here’s an example.


Done well, it produces striking, understated images, usually monochrome, every one unique. If you find fossils evocative, you might like gyotaku; it’s something you can try for yourself at home. It doesn’t have to involve fish; it also works well with molluscs, including cephalopods. It’s now catching on around the world.

I hope that this knowledge has helped your week get off to a better start.

Disclaimer: Hyde & Rugg bear no responsibility for what happens to anyone who tries using this approach on anything other than dead fish, dead arthropods and dead molluscs. Trying it on live sharks is particularly inadvisable…


1 thought on “Monday mood lifter: The Japanese have a word for it

  1. Pingback: Monday Mood Lifter – YMCA in Cantonese | hyde and rugg

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.