Okay, so Ukiyo-e has been a fav topic of mine for a VERY LONG TIME. These are prints made during a certain period of Japan's history in which Europe was starting to influence styles and methods of printmaking (and vice-versa...think Van Gogh).
WARNING: this material is not always PG13.
From Wiki (because my description was terrible): "Ukiyo (浮世, "floating, fleeting, or transient world") describes the urban lifestyle, especially the pleasure-seeking aspects, of the Edo-period Japan (1600–1867). The Floating World culture developed in Yoshiwara, the licensed red-light district of Edo (modern Tokyo), which was the site of many brothelsfrequented by Japan's growing middle class. A prominent author of the ukiyo genre was Ihara Saikaku, who wrote The Life of an Amorous Woman. The ukiyo culture also arose in other cities such as Osaka and Kyoto.
The famous Japanese woodblock prints known as ukiyo-e, or "pictures of the Floating World", had their origins in these districts and often depicted scenes of the Floating World itself such as geisha, kabuki actors, sumo wrestlers, samurai, chōnin, and prostitutes."
This time period resulted in some great printmakers that created very recognizable works. The Rare Book School (in Virginia - but online) is having a lecture on this FABULOUS topic and you may get to see some of their prints!
Here is the info:
Picturing the Floating World: Ukiyo-e in Context with Julie Nelson Davis A 40-minute Zoom presentation followed by 30-minutes of Q&A scheduled for: Wednesday, 8 July, 4–5:10 p.m. ET. https://rarebookschool.org/rbs-online/picturing-the-floating-world-ukiyo-e-in-context/ For registration details, please follow the link above to our website.
Ukiyo-e, the “pictures of the floating world,” are regarded today as masterpieces, with these prints and books among the most iconic (and expensive) in Japanese art. Yet it is often said that ukiyo-e was not appreciated in its home country in its own time; rather, that it was when prints and books arrived in France accidentally—as packing material for ceramics—that they were given due credit. In this talk, Julie Nelson Davis debunks the myth of ukiyo-e having been used for packing and wrapping, demonstrating that ukiyo-e was thoroughly appreciated as a field of artistic production, worthy of connoisseurship, and even of canonization, in its own time. Putting these images back into their dynamic contexts, Davis describes how consumers, critics, and makers produced and sold, valued and collected, discussed and recorded ukiyo-e. In this talk Davis recovers this multilayered world of pictures, showing how some were made for a commercial market, backed by savvy entrepreneurs seeking out new ways to make a profit, while others were produced for private coteries and high-ranking individuals seeking cultural capital. In effecting the historical recovery, Davis shows how ukiyo-e was a genre under construction in its own time.