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Ukiyo-e (Jp.) "Pictures of the floating world"

Ukiyo-e - Japanese Woodblock Printing, literally, "Pictures of the floating world". Woodblock printing was popular during the Edo Period (1600-1868) in Japan, chiefly among the Japanese middle classes. Subject matter tended to cover the pleasure districts and Kabuki theaters in the form of greeting cards and single-sheet prints, as well as albums and books. Major ukiyo-e artists included Utamaro, Hokusai and Hiroshige.

Among the earliest types of printed "Ukiyo-e," or wood block printing were the 17th century shunga, literally "spring pictures" that were sex manuals and courtesan critiques that depicted highly explicit love scenes. The couples are very rarely completely naked, though. Among the most well-known shunga authors are Hiskikawa Moronobu and Sugimura Jihei.

Another related area is Bijin-e, literally "Beautiful woman picture". These are wood block prints from late 17th century Japan, depicting high-ranking courtesans and their entourages.

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