Literary and pictorial play in the glittering world of Ukiyo-e

If Ukiyo-e was to be personified as a person I think “the girl with the kaleidoscope eyes” would be a perfect fit. The poetry of John Lennon painted the picture of a captivating woman with a sparkling disposition. His compelling portrait leaves us wanting to be in her presence if only for a few minutes. It parallels the desire to jump through the picture plane of an Ukiyo-e picture into the thriving metropolis of Edo and experience the floating, fleeting world for oneself.

One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku hyakkei)
1834; 1835; ca. 1849, Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, Tokyo (Edo) 1760–1849 Tokyo (Edo). Photo: www.metmuseum.org
View of Nihonbashi Tôri 1-chôme (Nihonbashi Tôri-itchôme ryakuzu), from the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (Meisho Edo hyakkei), 1858, Utagawa Hiroshige I. Photo: www.metmuseum.org.
Ise monogatari (Tales of Ise),
1608–1610, Hon’amie Keoetsu. Photo: www.britishmuseum.org.
Combined God of the Twelve Months (Jûni tsuki wagôjin), 1830s, Utagawa Kuniyoshi. Photo: www.mfa.org.
Ichikawa Ebizo as Kamakura Gonogoro Kagemasa and Sakata Hangoro III as Hahazuno Yotahei, Katsukawa Shūnei. Photo: wikivisually.com.
John Lennon, 1985–1986, Andy Warhol. Photo: www.christies.com.

Essays and memoirs about little wonders

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