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177 results
An Actor in the Role of Sato Norikiyo who Becomes Saigyo: An Actor in the Role of Yoshinaka
The Japanese art of Ukiyo-e (“Pictures of the floating [or sorrowful] world”) developed in the city of Edo (now Tokyo) during the Tokugawa or Edo Period (1600-1868), a relatively peaceful era during which the Tokugawa shoguns ruled Japan and made Edo the seat of power. The Ukiyo-e tradition of woodblock printing and painting continued into the 20th century. This diptych print of between 1849 and 1852 shows Saigyō surrounded by men trying to prevent him from leaving his house to become a priest. The poet Saigyō (1118-90) was born into ...
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Library of Congress
Peony and Canary
The Japanese art of Ukiyo-e (“Pictures of the floating [or sorrowful] world”) developed in the city of Edo (now Tokyo) during the Tokugawa or Edo Period (1600-1868), a relatively peaceful era during which the Tokugawa shoguns ruled Japan and made Edo the seat of power. The Ukiyo-e tradition of woodblock printing and painting continued into the 20th century. This print, made in 1833 or 1834, is part of the series "Small Flowers" by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). It is unusual in its background color and its size. Other examples of this ...
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Library of Congress
Akogi
Noh is a classical Japanese performance art that developed into its present form during the 14th and 15th centuries under the patronage of the shogunate. It became one of the favorite pastimes of the ruling class in Japan. Noh drama consists of dance and music. An utai-bon (book of lyrics) was made for each song in the drama. Noh was most popular during the 17th century, so many utai-bon, or Noh libretti, were published at that time. Shown here is a part of an utai-bon of Kanze-ryū style, one of ...
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National Diet Library
The Tales of Ise
Ise monogatari (The tales of Ise) is a collection of some 125 brief episodes, combining elements of prose and poetry, that dates from the early Heian period (9th−10th centuries). The protagonist is believed to be modeled on Ariwarano Narihira (825−80), a handsome aristocrat who had many romantic affairs. The main character’s romances, friendships, heartbroken wandering life, and various other stories are narrated in a style that owes much to waka (literally, Japanese poems). The work had a great influence on later Japanese literature, including Genji monogatari (The ...
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National Diet Library
Album of Appreciation of the Fragrance of Spring
Takuhanga is a printing technique in which a cloth-covered cotton ball containing black ink is patted on wet paper placed on an intaglio-engraved woodblock. The technique derives from takuhon, the art of rubbing found in Chinese copybooks printed from the works of old masters of calligraphy. This late-18th-century takuhanga album includes poems in the Chinese style celebrating the spring scenery of Kyoto written by learned men from the city who were students of Chinese literature, including Iwagaki Ryūkei (1741−1808). The drawings are by prominent Kyoto artists from the time ...
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National Diet Library
Picture Book of Chrysanthemums
The chrysanthemum, the flower loved by Tao Yuan-ming (365−427), a distinguished Chinese poet of the Eastern Jin dynasty, was brought to Japan around the beginning of the Heian period (794−1185). The plant took root on Japanese soil and by the Edo period (1600−1868) several hundred different types of chrysanthemum were being cultivated in the country. Gakiku is the first picture book of chrysanthemums published in Japan. Its beautiful illustrations and Chinese-style poems introduced readers to 100 different varieties of the flower. The text and lines are printed ...
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National Diet Library
Tsukishima
Tsukishima is a Kōwaka-mai (dance drama) ballad that dates from the Muromachi period (1336−1573). It is also called Hyōgo or Hyōgo tsukishima. The literal meaning of “tsukishima” is "making an island," and the ballad is based on an episode in which Taira no Kiyomori (1118−81), a general and noble, built a new port in Fukuhara, Hyōgo. The story starts with Kiyomori's decision to build the port. To ensure the success of the construction, 30 people are captured in order to be made human sacrifices to the gods ...
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National Diet Library
The Insect Book
Ehon mushi-erami (The insect book) is by the ukiyo-e painter Kitagawa Utamaro (circa 1753−1806). It was created by him before he produced the bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women) for which he is famous. Each double page of the book contains a painted illustration of a plant and two species of insects, along with two kyōka (a poem style originating from waka, literally, Japanese poems). The kyōka are ostensibly insect-themed love poems. In all, 15 colored wood-block prints are included. The work demonstrates Utamaro’s skill at drawing, as well ...
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National Diet Library
Chronicle of Japan, Volumes 1 and 2
Nihon shoki (Chronicle of Japan) is the first official Japanese history book, edited by Imperial Prince Toneri and others and completed in the fourth year of the Yōrō era (720). The 30 volumes cover the period from the mythological age to the time of the Empress Jitō (end of the seventh century). The first and second volumes, which deal with the mythological age, have been highly regarded in Japan since ancient times. The oldest existing manuscript of Nihon shoki dates from the Heian period (794−1185). The first published edition ...
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National Diet Library
Illustrated Manual of Medical Plants
This book is considered the first full-scale botanical art book in Japan. It was published in the late Edo period and comprises 92 volumes (volumes 1−4 remain incomplete), including more than 1,900 varieties of plants. The author, Iwasaki Kan’en (1786−1842), was a shogunate vassal. The work contains colored illustrations of wild species, garden species, and imported species, captioned with taxonomic names, and includes biological explanations and other information. The plants are classified and arranged according to the 16th-century Honzō kōmoku (Bencao gangmu in Chinese), a Chinese ...
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National Diet Library
Lotus Sutra
The practice of printing Buddhist scriptures on the reverse of letters from the deceased to pray for the repose of his or her soul became common from the end of the Heian period (late 12th century) onward. The scrolls shown here contain the text of a Buddhist sutra called Myōhō renge-kyō (Lotus sutra). They are printed on the reverse of letters sent from Daitō Genchi, the second abbot of Kakuon-ji Temple in Kamakura. It is believed that Hōjō Sadatoki’s wife, to whom the letters are addressed, and some others ...
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National Diet Library
Military Epic about the Life of Yoshitsune
Gikei ki tells a fictional story based on the life of Minamoto Yoshitsune, a famous military commander of the 12th century. In the book, Yoshitsune’s elder brother Minamoto Yoritomo, the first shogun in the history of Japan, becomes suspicious of his younger brother’s ambition after his glorious victories in a series of battles. By order of Yoritomo, Yoshitsune is expelled from Kyoto, hounded, and finally forced to commit suicide. The tragic story of Yoshitsune has long been popular in Japan and was often described in novels and dramas ...
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National Diet Library
Story of the Moon and the Sun
Tsukimitsu no sōshi (Story of the moon and the sun) is one of the otogizōshi, Japanese fairy tales of the Muromachi period (1336−1573). In the story, Hō’ō and Sansō, sons of a very wealthy man in Magada-koku, Tenjiku (an old name for India), were exiled by their stepmother to Shiomizu Island. Their dead birth mother changes herself into a large bird of paradise in order to protect and raise them. The boys eventually are rescued by their father, and grow up to be tsuki (the moon) and hi ...
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National Diet Library
A Collection of Japanese Paintings
This picture book is by Hishikawa Moronobu (died 1694) a representative artist in the earliest days of ukiyo-e. It consists of 20 pictures depicting popular scenes from classical Japanese literature, including Ise monogatari (The tales of Ise), Genji monogatari (The tale of Genji), and yōkyoku (chants of Noh plays). Moronobu was the first artist who put his signature on printed books. On the colophon of this work, he identifies himself as Yamato-e-shi (artist of classical Japanese paintings), thereby showing his professional confidence in himself as an artist. The National Diet ...
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National Diet Library
Beauties of Yoshiwara
Seirō Bijin Awase (Beauties of Yoshiwara) is one of the finest multicolored woodblock printed books in Japan. It was published in 1770. The book depicts 166 courtesans of the Yoshiwara, the pleasure quarter in Edo (present-day Tokyo), with the names of the courtesans and the brothels where they worked, with a haiku (a short poem) in the background of each illustration. The work consists of five sections in five chapters. The original title slip on which the book title and the volume title were printed is attached to the center ...
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National Diet Library
Iran and Afghanistan
Published in 1941 during the early part of World War II, this Japanese map of Iran and Afghanistan is based on a map issued the previous year by the Main Administration of Geodesy and Cartography of the Soviet Union. Unlike the British and the Russians, the Japanese did not have extensive knowledge of, or experience in, this part of Asia, which nonetheless became an important strategic interest for them during the war. The Axis powers—Germany, Japan, and Italy—believed that ultimate victory would require that they gain control of ...
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Library of Congress
Girl's Day
The Japanese art of Ukiyo-e (“Pictures of the floating [or sorrowful] world”) developed in the city of Edo (now Tokyo) during the Tokugawa or Edo Period (1600-1868), a relatively peaceful era during which the Tokugawa shoguns ruled Japan and made Edo the seat of power. The Ukiyo-e tradition of woodblock printing and painting continued into the 20th century. This print is one sheet of an illustrated book from between 1716 and 1736. It shows three richly dressed women or girls eating and drinking, probably celebrating Hina Matsuri (Girl's day ...
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Library of Congress
Dharma Wonder Boy
This early-18th century work by an unknown artist is a typical example of Nara-ehon, the illustrated manuscripts or hand-printed scrolls and books produced in Japan from the Muromachi (1333-1573) through the mid-Edo (1615-1868) periods. The Hōmyō dōji is originally an East Indian story with roots in Buddhism. Like many such stories, it begins with the characteristic phrase, “Once upon a time in the land of the Buddha...” It goes on to tell the story of a child who was chosen to become a sacrifice for a giant snake. The child ...
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Library of Congress
The Tale of Genji: Commentary on Key Words and Phrases, Volumes 55-57
Genji monogatari (Tale of Genji) is often considered the first great novel in world literature. The author of the work, Murasaki Shibuku, was born around 978 and spent most of her life at or near the imperial court in Kyoto. After a brief marriage to an older man, she entered the service of Empress Akiko (or Shōshi) around 1005 as a lady-in-waiting. The novel consists of 54 books or chapters that recount the life and romances of Prince Genji, the young, handsome, and talented son of an emperor. The novel ...
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Library of Congress
The Tale of Genji: Genealogy, Volume 58
Genji monogatari (Tale of Genji) is often considered the first great novel in world literature. The author of the work, Murasaki Shibuku, was born around 978 and spent most of her life at or near the imperial court in Kyoto. After a brief marriage to an older man, she entered the service of Empress Akiko (or Shōshi) around 1005 as a lady-in-waiting. The novel consists of 54 books or chapters that recount the life and romances of Prince Genji, the young, handsome, and talented son of an emperor. The novel ...
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Library of Congress
The Tale of Genji: A Sequel, Volume 59
Genji monogatari (Tale of Genji) is often considered the first great novel in world literature. The author of the work, Murasaki Shibuku, was born around 978 and spent most of her life at or near the imperial court in Kyoto. After a brief marriage to an older man, she entered the service of Empress Akiko (or Shōshi) around 1005 as a lady-in-waiting. The novel consists of 54 books or chapters that recount the life and romances of Prince Genji, the young, handsome, and talented son of an emperor. The novel ...
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Library of Congress