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Ukiyo (n)

May 5, 2022

Living in the moment, detached from the bothers of life.

It all sounds

wonderful Ukiyo,

being with unavailable

people and lovers is a struggle, –

written from Xhosa,

directly into English,


says You Are.

Ukiyo is often used to describe art, painting and society, writers and figures in Japanese Edo society.

Lovers Walking in the Snow (Crow and Heron)1764–72

Suzuki Harunobu Japanese

The sharing of Umbrella Love

Ukiyo (浮世, “floating/fleeting/transient world”) is the Japanese term used to describe the urban lifestyle and culture, especially the pleasure-seeking aspects, of Edo period Japan (1600–1867).

In 1603, the city of Edo (Tokyo) became the seat of the ruling Tokugawa shogunate. The chōnin class (merchants, craftsmen and workers), positioned at the bottom of the social order, benefited the most from the city’s rapid economic growth, and began to indulge in and patronise the entertainment of kabuki theatre, geisha, and courtesans of the pleasure districts; the term ukiyo (“floating world”) came to describe this hedonistic lifestyle.

Interior of a kabuki theatre 1745 Okumura Masanobu | Oil Painting …

The Edo period was a time of relative peace administered by a conservative military government. In order to encourage stability, and influenced by a revived interest in Confucian mores, the Tokugawa regime segregated society into four classes: warriors, farmers, artisans, and—at the bottom of the heap—merchants. Seeking to control public behavior, the Tokugawa shogunate set aside walled areas in all major cities for the establishment of brothels, teahouses, and theaters. In these districts all classes comingled, and money and style dominated.

Ukiyo-e art were usually mass-produced woodblock prints. Initially the prints were in black and white only but later when it further developed, prints consisted of up to 30 different colors. A Japanese writer in the 17th century described ukiyo-e as a representation of the attitudes in Japan of that period, saying :

“living only for the moment, turning our full attention to the pleasures of cherry blossoms; singing songs, drinking wine, diverting ourselves in just floating, floating; …, like a gourd floating along with the river current” – iTravelWithArt

Claude Monet – Woman With a Parasol

Ukiyo-e was central to forming the West’s perception of Japanese art in the late 19th century, particularly the landscapes of Hokusai and Hiroshige. From the 1870s onwards, Japonisme became a prominent trend and had a strong influence on the early Impressionists such as Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet and Claude Monet, as well as having an impact on Post-Impressionists such as Vincent van Gogh, and Art Nouveau artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

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  1. very educational 😀 ~ thanks, Abi!


    • Thank you David, 😊 💓
      Ukiyo is a vast and interesting philosphy, art, subject or lifestyle to explore. There is so written about it, so much to explore.
      Thank you for reading.

  2. Timothy Price permalink

    Interesting. Great post.

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