During the Edo period in Japan (1603-1868), ukiyo-e art reached its peak in popularity and production. The Edo period was characterized by a stable and prosperous society under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate. The rise of the merchant class and the growth of urban culture in cities like Edo (present-day Tokyo) contributed to the popularity of ukiyo-e.
Ukiyo-e prints during this period depicted a wide range of subjects, including landscapes, historical events, kabuki actors, sumo wrestlers, beautiful women (known as bijin-ga), and scenes from everyday life. The prints often reflected the pleasures and indulgences of the urban lifestyle, capturing the fleeting and transient nature of the "floating world" (ukiyo).
Artists like Hokusai and Hiroshige gained immense popularity during the Edo period for their landscape prints. Hokusai's series "Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji," which includes the iconic print "The Great Wave off Kanagawa," and Hiroshige's series "The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido" are among the most famous ukiyo-e works from this period.
Ukiyo-e prints were produced using the woodblock printing technique, which allowed for mass production and affordability. They were widely circulated and enjoyed by people from different social classes. The prints were often sold in shops and distributed as illustrations in popular novels and poetry collections.
Overall, ukiyo-e art during the Edo period played a significant role in capturing and reflecting the cultural, social, and aesthetic sensibilities of the time. It continues to be highly regarded and influential in the world of art.
Shugen Chôsei-in on Mount Kôdo
Ryôgoku Bridge: Actors Onoe Kikugorô IV and Ichikawa Kodanji IV