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His helmet was inspired by the samurai.

“Star Wars” lands in 17th-century Japan with ukiyo-e woodblock prints

Steve Mollman
By Steve Mollman

Weekend editor

It’s no secret that George Lucas was inspired by Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa when creating Star Wars. Now Lucas’s films are inspiring traditional Japanese art, with scenes from his sci-fi universe depicted on ukiyo-e woodblock prints, a traditional craft dating back to the 17th century.

The prints are designed by artist Masumi Ishikawa and painstakingly carved by master engravers (video). Scenes include Imperial snow walkers on the march, Queen Amadila with R2-D2, and Darth Vader surrounded by flames.

Imperial walkers, on ukiyo-e woodblock print.

The project is featured (link in Japanese) on the crowdfunding site Makuake, where it successfully raised nearly 12 million yen, about eight times its original goal. A 54,000 yen ($435) contribution to the project counted as a purchase of a print.

The prints will join the universe of Star Wars collectibles, which have a serious following. In an auction earlier this year an anonymous bidder spent 18,000 pounds ($28,000) on a Boba Fett figure that cost less than two pounds when it sold originally 35 years ago.

Queen Amadila with R2-D2, on ukiyo-e woodblock print.
Darth Vader, on ukiyo-e woodblock print.
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