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Posts tagged ukiyo-e

Geisha with Books

geisha with books russia hokusai hermitage ai clear topazdenoise

“Geisha with Books” Hokusai

geisha with books description russia hokusai-denoise

Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg, Russia)

Japan Journeys


I just finished Japan Journeys: Famous Woodblock Prints of Cultural Sights in Japan by Andreas Marks. This is mostly a picture book, featuring about 200 Japanese woodblock prints (ukiyo-e / 浮世絵). Artists include Hokusai (北斎), Hiroshige (広重), Utamaro (歌麿), and Kunisada (国貞).

The prints include a brief description and some historical context. They are arranged by location.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I have a couple of critiques/recommendations should anyone want to do something similar.

The first is that some, if not many, of the ukiyo-e are too small. The book is inexpensive (under $20 for a hardback and all in full color), but I would have preferred a larger book, both in terms of page size and length, so that the prints could be seen in more detail. Some of them are stamp size, and they all should have been at least 8″ on the short side.

The second is that I would have liked to have also seen modern photos of these places, even if the places look radically different today. I’m imagining something like what I’ve done here and here.

The making of a modern Ukiyo-e (浮世絵)

nihonbashi ukiyoe hiroshige

Creating a new ukiyo-e on a storefront in Nihonbashi (Tokyo, Japan)

On an unseasonably cold evening in late November, we came upon this man painting (I think) an original ukiyo-e in the Nihonbashi part of Tokyo. If you want to see the finished result you’ll need to roam the streets of Nihonbashi after (or before) business hours as this can only be seen when the shop is closed.

The location is approximately here.

Hiroshige’s “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo: Tanabata Star Festival in a Bustling Town”

hiroshige One Hundred Famous Views of Edo: Tanabata Star Festival in a Bustling Town

utagawa hiroshige famous japanese artist

Today’s photo was taken in the Tokyo National Museum. Hiroshige is one of my favorite artists. To see his originals is a thrill for me. Tanabata is celebrated in Japan today.

Kanazawa’s (金沢) Kenrokuen’s (兼六園) Karasaki (唐崎) Pine Tree (松)

kanazawa japan korokuen karasaki matsu pine tree

Japan has some amazing pine trees, and this is one of the better ones. The seed for this Karasaki Matsu (Pine Tree) is said to have come from the famous pine tree depicted in the ukiyo-e pictured below (Night Rain at Karasaki) by Hiroshige. The statue to the left is Yamato Takeru and is the oldest bronze statue in Japan, dating back to 1880.

hiroshige ukiyo-e

The meeting of the Fukagawa (深川) and the Sumidagawa (隅田川) – past and present

Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji 富嶽三十六景 Fugaku Sanjurokkei ukiyo-e Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai

While walking to my daughter’s soccer game in a shitamachi area of Tokyo called Fukagawa (deep river) I came across this marker of one of Hokusai’s famous scenes from his series “36 Views of Mt. Fuji.” The title of the ukiyo-e is “Under the 10,000 year bridge over Fukagawa.” The bridge is no longer there so I’m guessing its existence ended up being only a few hundred years at most.

Turning the corner a bit and looking down the Sumidagawa (a much larger and much deeper river than the Fukagawa–it’s the river in the background of the above which the Fukagawa is draining into) yielded the following modern view.

No chance of seeing Mount Fuji from here anymore with most of the buildings being over 10 stories high. Perhaps if you were on top of one of the buildings you may occasionally have a glimpse. The blue bridge in this image is the Kiyosu-bashi (清洲橋). You can still see fishermen (the guy in the bottom of the photo has three fishing poles in the water) though. Some things don’t change.

If you can understand Japanese, here is some more information on the Katsushika Hokusai ukiyo-e.