Meiji Period Prints (1868-1912)

Meiji-period woodblock prints reflect an era of change. In 1853, the arrival of Commodore Perry’s black ships brought over 250 years of Japanese isolation to an abrupt end. The following year, as Japan engaged in international trade, Yokohama-e (Yokohama pictures) captured an influx of unfamiliar peoples, places and things entering Japan through Yokohama harbor. By 1868, the Imperial line attained control of the country under Emperor Meiji, terminating the feudal rule of the Tokugawa Shogunate and dissipating the culture of the floating world. Under the emperor, national modernization progressed rapidly. From Western-style clothes and pastimes, to exciting new inventions from overseas, Japan absorbed the massive influx of the foreign and developed a distinctly Japanese modern identity. While photography and lithography gained popularity at this time, the woodblock print continued to serve as a powerful medium. Meiji period artists made sense of a transitioning world with a familiar medium.

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Watching a Noh Performance

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Watching a Theater Performance

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Shogun's Inspection of Ammunition Explosions Over Water

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Court Ladies with a Cockatoo

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Viewing Wisteria in Full Bloom

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Leisure

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Shell Game

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Preparing for a Concert

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Poetry

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Marriage Ceremony

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October: Wealthy Merchants Celebrating for God Ebisu

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Banquet at Tokyo Peers School

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Bijin in the Meiji Era

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Kabuki Actor Ichikawa Sadanji I

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Silence in the Snow

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Tokyo Firefighters Climbing Ladders at the First Event of the Year

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Kabuki Play Toyama-jo Yukige no Kiyomizu

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Guests Return Home

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Katsuta Shinzaemon Taketaka

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Yamato Takeru no Mikoto

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Wanting to Have it Decided

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Buddhist Monk Receives Cassia Seeds on a Moonlit Night

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