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Japanese Ukiyo-e Prints

Once sold quite inexpensively, prints like this one by Ando Hiroshige were collected and enjoyed by common people. Little did Japanese print artists know that in later centuries their work would be appreciated and collected around the world.

Ando Hiroshige
Japanese (1797-1858)
Suijin Grove and Masaki on the Sumida River, 1856
From the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo
Color woodblock print
Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Pictures of the Floating World
A Team Effort
Sublime Subjects

A Picture Is Worth 17 Syllables: Select an ukiyo-e print that inspires you. What do you see? How does the picture make you feel? Using the 5-7-5 syllable format explained in the Haiku Worksheet, write a haiku poem about the print.
Download a Haiku worksheet here as a PDF.  

Team Art: In groups of three, create prints in ukiyo-e style using printmaking materials and tools. Select a subject for the print by thinking about what you do for entertainment or enjoyment. Have one team member lead each step in the process: drawing, carving, and printing. Take turns practicing each step to see how ukiyo-e prints were made. When all the groups have finished, collect the prints and assemble them into a book for the class to enjoy.  

A Print Is: Discover how prints are made, step by step. Visit the Museum of Modern Art Web site to see several different print processes, including woodblock. Uncover the answer to "What Is a Print?".  

Kabuki Drama: Click here to use the Art Collector feature of ArtsConnectEd to view a collection of Kabuki prints from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. What are the actors doing? What are they wearing? Do they have props or sets on the stage? Gather items to use in a play of your own. Create characters and a script and perform a Kabuki drama.  

The Art of Asia: Learn more about ukiyo-e by visiting The Art of Asia on the Minneapolis Institute of Arts Web site.  

Virtual Ukiyo-e: Delve into the complex world of ukiyo-e and its processes and techniques at Wesleyan University’s
Web site.  

A Tour of the Floating World: Come to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to see pictures of the floating world. Because light can damage them, the prints are rotated every ten weeks. So plan to visit often! Located in gallery 239.  

Check It Out: Visit the Minneapolis Public Library for more ukiyo-e reading fun!

Finley, Carol. Art of Japan: Wood-Block Color Prints. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1998.

Place, Francois. The Old Man Mad about Drawing: A Tale of Hokusai. Boston: David R. Godine, 2004.

Ray, Deborah Kogan. Hokusai: The Man Who Painted a Mountain. New York: Ferrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001.  

May 2007