The Floating World

We’ve been looking alot at ukiyo-e prints in my Japanese Art and Architecture Class.

Ukiyo-e is a term derived from Buddhism, literally meaning “floating world.” There was this idea that life had an impermanence to it, that it was almost unreal. Reality is only an illusion. Thus, it was essential to meditate on your present state of consciousness because that was all you were sure you had. In other words, focus on the now because the past and the future is unobtainable. Words of wisdom.

So styles and themes in ukiyo-e prints were steadily changing, like a “floating world.” If you pick up a ukiyo-print and examine the patterns on the kimono, the knot of the hair, or the body language of the subjects, you’ll know what was in style in that specific moment when that print was created. Themes ranged from women, to nature, to theater, and even to sex. Guess you gotta immerse yourself in the moment when that happens.

Kitagawa Utamaro, Portrait of a Woman, Coquettish Type, from "The Series of Ten Physiognomic Types of Women," ca. 1792

Kitagawa Utamaro, Beauty in Front of Mirror, 1750

Katsushika Hokusai’s Great Wave of Kanagawa is probably one of the best recognized ukiyo-e prints.
There are countless modern takes and reproductions of it. I have the Kozy Bunny on my wall, yeeeeee!


Katsushika Hokusai, Great Wave of Kanagawa, 1830

Unknown, Wave of the Future

Unknown, Great Monkey Wave

Unknown, Kozy Bunny Wave

I’m also moving into my own apartment soon. What do you think?




One thought on “The Floating World

  1. I have a huge wave canvas print in our living room/office. I love it. It’s just so timeless. I hope to do my own version one day, but all I draw are rabbits and since Kozyndan’s version of the wave, it’s like they’ve got the bunny wave sorted.

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