Ukiyo-e 浮世絵

Ota Memorial Museum of Art, UKIYOE museum in Omotesando/Harajuku area

Ukiyo-e 浮世絵

1 UKIYO-E- what is it?

2 History of UKIYO-E

3 Making of UKIYO-E

  • 3.1 Producer to Painter to Sculptor to Surishi
  • 3.2 Joint effort needed
  • 3.3 Impact of UKIYO-E to the West

4 Exhibition of UKIYO-E

5 Ota Memorial Museum of Art- enjoy UKIYO-E in the heart of Tokyo in Omotesando


1 What is UKIYOE?   Woodblock prints used for advertising Kabuki during the Edo period.

2 History of Ukiyo-e

Started in late 17th Century Japan, it was a form of advertisement tool, mostly to sell the actors of Kabuki shows.  Fans of Kabuki bought the ukiyoe for about a price of a bowl of soba/udon (less than Y1000 yen.)   Kabuki was the main entertainment available for the masses in old Tokyo/Edo during this period of peace.  (Tokugawa Shogunate 1603-1868).

It started out around 1658, with a single colored (black and whilte) ukiyoe and then developed into red and black and finally to multi-colors.


3 Making of Ukiyo-e

It helps to understand how ukiyo-e is actually made.

3.1 Producer 版元 would ask the 2 Painter/artist 絵師 to draw the picture.  3 Sculptor 彫師will carve that picture onto the woodblock.  4 Finally, the Surishi 摺師 will color the woodblock and print the final product.

3.2 It is a joint effort of these four people, although we only pay attention to the artists like UTAMARO, SHARAKU, HOKUSAI, and HIROSHIGE.

3.3In the 19th Century France/Europe, lots of impressionist artists like Van Gough, Renoir, Monet and Manet were influenced by Japanese Ukiyo-e.  The first contact was interesting!  Ukiyo-e was used as wrappers for goods exported from Japan to Europe.  Japonism, as the movement, came to be known, was widespread.  Van Gough is famous for his 500 pieces of Ukiyo-e collections.   (For a good summary-


4 Exhibition of Ukiyo-e

Very timely exhibition coming up in The National Museum of Western Art in Ueno 国立西洋美術館 from Oct 21 2017-Jan 28th 2018.  Hokusai and Japonism.


5 Ota Memorial Museum of Art-enjoy Ukiyo-e in the heart of Tokyo, Omotesando

Visit OTA MEMORIAL MUSEUM OF ART, hidden away in Omotesando/Harajuku.  With 14,000 pieces of Ukiyo-e collections, their thematic exhibition changes seasonally, so check the site before you go.  From Sept end to Octo end 2017, Katsushika Hokusai Thirty six Views of Mt. Fuji is on.

Entrance to the museum

Current exhibition of Hokusai and his Thirty six views of Mt. Fuji

You can order your own ukiyo-e as well.

Small Tenugui (Japanese towels) shop in the Basement, with other associated gift.  Very nice store.

No pictures allowed, but you can check out their twitter account with lots of pictures!


Any questions or comments?


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