Ukiyoe, wood block print

Great wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai

During Edo period under the isolation policy Ukiyoe, wood block print uniquely developed. Ukiyo means the modern and the popular subjects of those days and they were depicted in Ukiyoe.
Sumo wrestler, kabuki actor and beautiful woman and scenery were representative themes.

Three persons such as painter, carver, printer, were involved in making Ukiyoe. Painter designed, carver carved 7 wood panels and printer beautifully printed all the layers on the paper. It is said about 200 pieces were printed a day and popular paintings were repeatedly printed.

It cost as much as a sheet of buckwheat noodle and the commoners could afford to enjoy it. Ukiyoe was first introduced overseas as wrapping paper for the pottery and later exported as an art and much influenced to the European artists such as Van Gogh.

Hokusai produced Thirty-six views of Mt. Fuji and other nishiki-e masterpieces that are still famous today, and the new genre of scenery pictures in the field of Ukiyoe was established. That is one of Hokusai’s great accomplishments. 

Related article <Sumida Hokusai Museum


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