Enter the intricate world of Ukiyo-e at the exhibit near MCAS Futenma

Photos by Shoji Kudaka
Photos by Shoji Kudaka

Enter the intricate world of Ukiyo-e at the exhibit near MCAS Futenma

Stripes Okinawa

Long before manga and comics brought Japanese life into drawings and illustration, Ukiyo-e depicted the daily lives of its captive audience.

If you’re near MCAS Futenma you won’t want to miss a new exhibit showcasing 72 Ukiyo-e works at the Sakima Art Museum.

Ukiyo-e art features print art based on intricate wood carvings in multiple layers to show a scene. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of Japan, Ukiyo-e can be traced back to the late 16th century and was widely recognized as pop culture during the country’s Edo Era (1603 – 1867).

Waraku, a magazine dedicated to Japanese art, notes that the word “ukiyo” comes from the word “憂世,” which means “harsh world,” but was changed to “浮世,” which means “floating world” or “festive world.” The new word is likely a throwback to the peaceful world that the Edo period is known for.

According to MOFA, Ukiyo-e is broken down into two categories: original painting, and woodblock print. Woodblock prints were very common. While early prints were available in only one color, multiple colors came to be used as the skills of printing progressed. Portraits of women and actors were a hugely popular genre of Ukiyo-e, but landscapes also started to garner a following toward the late Edo in the 19th century.

During the Edo Era, Ukiyo-e of Mt. Fuji, Shinagawa, Kawasaki, and other notable locations also served as guides for tourists, notes Waraku magazine.

Hokusai (Katsushika Hokusai) and Hiroshige (Utagawa Hiroshige) were the two masters (and rivals) who contributed to the popularity of landscape prints. Their works are believed to have had an influence over artists in the late 19th century such as Gogh and Monet.

At the Sakima Art Museum’s “Ukiyo-e ten” exhibit, visitors can enjoy works including the “Fugaku sanju-rokkei (Thirty-Six Views of Mt Fuji)” and “Tokaido Gojusan Tsugi (Fifty-three stations of the Tokaido),” two famous Ukiyo-e series.

Although the prints exhibited at the museum are not from Edo Era, they are some of the best printed from the Meiji Era (1868 – 1912) through the Showa Era (1926 – 1989), according to the museum.

For hundreds of years, Ukiyo-e has fascinated audiences at home and abroad with its elaborate strokes or bright colors depicting beautiful scenes in Japan. The art exhibit near MCAS Futenma is the perfect way to enjoy these ornate works that have stood the test of time.

Ukiyo-e ten (Exhibition)
Date: Until Apr 24 (Closed on Tuesdays)
Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Venue: Sakima Art Museum (near MCAS Futenma)
GPS Coordinates: N 26.27811 E 127.77491
Admission: 800 yen for adults, 700 yen for university/college students and elders (70 years old or older), 600 yen for high and middle school students, and 300 yen for children.
*Free parking available

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