Any major ukiyo-e fan would have seen Utagawa Kunisada’s work at least once. He was the most prolific of the key woodblock-print artists to document life in the Edo Period (1603-1868), producing works that have since been exhibited worldwide.
Though ukiyo-e are popular primarily for their aesthetic appeal, they can be just as engaging intellectually. Sometimes viewed as pictorial textbooks on the Japanese wa (harmonious) way of life, they reveal a lot about the clothes, entertainment and customs of that time.
This collection of Kunisada’s bijinga (pictures of beautiful women) show women enjoying the latest in fashion, makeup and foods, as well as their interest in music and other leisure activities — topics that resonate well with the recent rise in interest in traditional Japanese arts and crafts.
Ukiyo-e Ota Memorial Museum of Art; 1-10-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Harajuku Stn. 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. ¥700. Closed Mon. 03-5777-8600; www.ukiyoe-ota-muse.jp