Pictures from the Floating World  江戶浮世百態的寫照 ── 浮世繪




Ukiyo-e is one of Japan's most famous types of art.



  In the 1600's, the Japanese capital moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. In the new capital, business was growing fast and traders suddenly had lots of money to spend. This gave rise to the ukiyo, or the floating world, which describes the urban lifestyle of gambling, red-light districts, and more, during this time period. The art of the age changed to show this and ukiyo-e, pictures of the floating world, was born.

  十七世紀時,日本首都從京都遷到東京。在新首都,商業快速發達,商人突然有很多錢可以花。這導致浮世(英文又稱 floating world)的出現,其描述的是這個時期的都市生活型態,像是賭博、綠燈戶和其他更多方面。這時期的藝術轉變到展現此層面,於是浮世繪(英文又稱 pictures of the floating world)誕生了。

  Ukiyo-e used a new, much faster method developed at this time: woodblock printing. First, the artist, normally a trained painter, designed the image. Next, a woodworker carved the images onto woodblocks. Finally, a printer used these woodblocks to print the image onto paper. Because they could be mass-produced, these prints were much more inexpensive than paintings, and popular art became no longer just for the wealthy.


  Traditional Japanese art focused on the beauty of nature or the lives of the rich. The colorful ukiyo-e prints took art in a new direction by focusing on more common subjects such as sumo wrestlers, geishas, common people, and ghosts. As the content continued to change, artists went beyond the world of entertainment and ukiyo-e became one of Japan's most distinct art forms.


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