The Edo Period
The Edo period in Japan lasted from 1615 until 1868, the Meiji Restoration. Japan’s isolationist period during this time led to a revival of the past, and Japan was controlled by the conservative warrior elite, or shogunate, for the next two and a half centuries. Despite its isolation, Japan began to flourish, with limited trade with China and the Netherlands and an emphasis on domestic trading and improved agriculture. Art and literature prospered in major areas like Kyoto and Edo. The famous ukiyo-e prints originate from this time period, the beautiful block prints that later became popular in nineteenth century western Europe. Ukiyo-e means “floating world”, referring to the tilted perspective of many of the works. Some of the most famous artists include Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Katsushika Hokusai (known as one of Japan’s greatest landscape painters, he created the famous Great Wave, bottom picture, as well as his famous Views of Mount Fuji series), Kitagawa Utamaro, and Utagawa Hiroshige.