In nineteenth century Japan, woodblock prints were a cultural phenomenon, with thousands of designs issued annually. Prints were a cheap and colourful medium of entertainment, much like magazines and posters today. Kabuki is a unique combination of drama, dance, music, and acrobatics, still enthusiastically followed today. It is distinctive for its stylisation, lavish visual appearance, and intense kinetic energy. The plots concern tragic romances, feats of derring-do, and conflicts of loyalty, involving larger-than-life heroes, heroines, and villains. Whatever the story of the play, however, it was the actor above all that the audience came to see. Most of National Museums Scotland's magnificent collection of around 4,000 prints was acquired in the 1880s at the peak of the craze for Japanese art and design in Europe, and features the major artists of the time. This book features the highlights of the exhibition opening at the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, October 2013.