MUSEUM SHOP, LTD. is currently having a show of original Japanese woodcuts, most from the Edo Period (1600-1868). Featured are woodblock prints (ukiyo-e) by the Masters: Ando Hiroshige, Hiroshige II, Kawase Hasui, Hiroshi Yoshida, Tokoriki, Sharaku, Haranobu, and other important Japanese artists. Some depict scenes of the vibrant, plebian life of Old Japan; some are scenes of fierce warriors; some are lovely landscapes of Mount Fuji; some show actors; castles; and some show beautiful courtesans. Much of this art was created to please the Shoguns, but much of it was made for the common Japanese people as well.
The Edo Period was a time of social and political unrest. It was a time of great austerity, when there were censors who dictated which colors could be used, and every finished print had to bear a censor's seal of approval. Artists combined elements from both Japanese and Chinese art to form their own art movement. Students would study for years with their masters, often eventually adopting their names. Many of these prints survived only because they were sewn into books. Many of the woodblocks in this country today were brought here by American soldiers returning home from Japan after WWII.