Translation Supervised by Princeton University Language Project

Torii Kiyonaga  “Assembled Beauties of Contemporary Pleasure Quarters: Nakazu

Although most people think of Ukiyo-e as vibrant and colorful, colored Ukiyo-e (also known as nishiki-e or multi-colored print) was time consuming to make and only became prominent because of Suzuki Harunobu.  The technique for making prints with two to three colors had existed prior to Suzuki Harunobu’s lifetime, but had not been as vibrant or colorful.

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Kitagawa Utamaro “Courtesan, Takigawa of the Ōgiya House”

2. Torii Kiyonaga  Refreshing Beauties of Edo

After the death of Harunobu, Torii Kiyonaga gained much popularity by creating a new style of depicting women.  Kiyonaga chose to illustrate women as tall with slender figures so that they resembled foreign models, while Harunobu had depicted women as cute with childlike bodies.   His drawings of healthy, vibrant women reflected the rich cultural, and economic atmosphere of a growing Edo.

Kitagawa Utamaro “Customs of Beauties Around the Clock: Hour of the Rat (twenty-four o'clock), Mistress

Suzuki Harunobu
“Burning Maple Leaves to Heat Sake      

Highlight Work of the Exhibition


Kitagawa Utamaro

“Comparing of the Charms of Five Beauties: Courtesan Kisegawa of Matsuba-ya House”

3.Kitagawa Utamaro ~ The Artist Good at Picture of Beautiful Women of History

Replacing Torii Kiyonaga as the popular figure that dominated the ukiyo-e world, Utamaro was best known for depicting pictures of beautiful women. He was the number one artist in capturing the beauty in women through little details like the slight tilting of the face and the casual movements of the hand.

Especially in the domain of Ōkubi-e (bust portrait) where the female upper half body is depicted close-up, he was able to draw splendidly even the inner feelings of the women.

Torii Kiyonaga   “Comparing the Charms of Beauties”


In the late 18th century when ukiyo-e prints had started to enchant the people of Edo and gain firm popularity, the ukiyo-e artists Suzuki Harunobu, Torii Kiyonaga and Kitagawa Utamaro were the three most popular. Through their works, they depicted beautiful women who were famous in the city and the daily lives of ordinary people with deep affection. 

In this exhibition, we will display not only the works of great masters such as Suzuki Harunobu, Torii Kiyonaga and Kitagawa Utamaro but also the works of their rivals, Isoda Koryūsai, Katsukawa Shunshō and Chōbunsai Eishi. Please enjoy the various elegant prints that are full of emotion from the Edo period and are suitable to be called “typical ukiyo-e works.”

Harunobu・Kiyonaga・Utamaro and Their Ages"

This is a Ōkubi-e (bust portrait) that depicts the facial expressions of the reputed beauties in Edo city at the time. The courtesan in this picture holding a fan with the design of the morning glory is called Kisegawa and seems to be lost in thought while putting her hand against her chin. This picture is characteristic in its use of hanji-e (rebus picture) with the name of the women not explicitly being mentioned. Instead, in the upper right-hand corner of the picture one can find a pine needle (matsuba), an arrow (ya), the upper two thirds of a pipe (kiseru, therefore kise), and a river (kawa). These add up to spell out the name of this woman, Matsuba-ya Kisegawa.

● Admissions: Adults¥700
  University and senior high school students ¥500
  Junior high school and below: FREE
● Calendar (Red : Holidays)

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Suzuki Harunobu “Parodies of Eight Scenes from Noh Chants: Evening Glow of “Momijigari

( Will be closed on April 2, 9, 16 and 23rd)

1.Suzuki Harunobu  Impact of Multi-color Printing

Highlight of the Exhibition

2012, April 1st26th