The Young Girl Gyokkashi Eimo


The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. This nishiki-e (full-color print) shows Gyokkashi Eimo, a young girl with a talent for calligraphy, sitting alongside her writing instructor. It is in the small standardized format that Torii Kiyonaga (1752–1815) preferred in his middle years. During this time, he produced realistic portrayals of everyday life in Edo. The natural gestures and slightly disarranged look of the loosely-worn kimono exemplify his candid style.

Last updated: November 26, 2013