The word "Ukiyo" was originated from a Buddhism term "this transitory
world" lasting for one's life until death, however the meaning was
changed later with an optimistic view of life that one should enjoy
his life anyhow one passed through the transitory world, while the
word "e" means a picture or drawing.
"Ukiyo-e" is traditional wood-block printing art of Japan, which
came into flower in the Edo period, about 300 years ago.
Also Ukiyo-e took on the role of mass media for the community..
The subject of Ukiyo-e was various, but the most popular type of
Ukiyo-e portrayed the beauty of women and the actors of Kabuki (traditional
They were dressed in the latest fashion and they seemed none other
than the star in these days. Ukiyo-e was often treated like a movie
star's picture of today.
Ukiyo-e artists competed with one another in trying to portray such
The wood-block print technology much contributed to the spread and
popularity of Ukiyo-e throughout Japan.
In the early stage of Ukiyo-e it had only one color, black.
However, low cost reproduction could be accomplished through the advanced
process of wood-block printing.
Thus Ukiyo-e, which had been accepted by the public, grew up to colorful
pictures and took root as popular fine art.