photo by Stuart Rankin

Japanese One Kind of Arts, “Ukiyo-e”


“Ukiyo-e” is one of the Japanese painting genres. The word “ukiyo” refers to the world of common people and “e” means “picture”.

Ukiyo-e started in Edo era (1603-1863) and drew people who lived in the modern times in the middle ages.

It was popular among common people at that time because it was woodcut. Woodcut is cheap and possible to print the same picture.

It has been also evaluated by impressionist painters in the West such as Gogh and Manet because they even incorporated the techniques from Ukiyo-e.

(Photo by Carlos Cesar Alvarez)

(Photo by Carlos Cesar Alvarez)

Ukiyo-e emerged in the late sixteenth century, it usually depicted everyday life.

In addition, ukiyo-e is created not only painters, but also horishi (carvers) who carved the pictures drawn by Ukiyoe artists in woodblocks and surishi (printers) who colored the woodblocks and printed.

Therefore, it became possible to make a perfect efficient replication and most of the people can purchase high-quality Ukiyo-e in cheaper price.

Ukiyo-e depicted variety of things. The most popular model used in the picture was women.

The most famous masterpieces from Ukiyo-e is “Looking Back Beauty” by Moronobu Hishikawa and “Woman Playing a Poppin” by Utamaro Kitagawa.

After that Ukiyo-e gradually became very realistic and they started to draw fashions and time when they when somewhere as journey time.

For example, “Fugaku Sanju Rokkei” by Hokusai Katsushika is the most famous masterpiece.

When Japan aggressively started international diplomacy, ukiyo-e used in the journalism to show the society by the Western culture.

However, ukiyo-e culture was taken over by the other paining genres when it was captured by media such as newspapers and photographs.

This kind of Ukiyo-e culture is very unique in Japan as well and has been recognized worldwide.

It is well known that Vincent VAN GOGH drew Ukiyoe on the background of his work entitled “Portrait of Pere Tanguy” and reproduced Hiroshige’s works in his oil painting, while the “Young Flautist” by Edouard MANET was influenced by Ukiyoe.

Some of the exclusive ukiyo-e can be found in museums around the world.

The fine brush techniques, dynamic compositions, and vivid colors studded in the entire art will never make us be disappointed. You may not think ukiyo-e was written over 100 years ago if you see it.

Ukiyo-e has a power that make the audience’s heart pound.

Writer: admin

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