Cute and Funny Ukiyo-e

Planned Exhibition
2019, January 5th-27th
Will be closed on January 7, 15, 21

Utagawa Hiroshige “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo : Asakusa Ricefields and Torinomachi Festival”

A wide variety of attractive figures and trends are depicted in ukiyo-e during the Edo period, such as beautiful courtesans, handsome actors and popular sights. However, more than 150 years since the Edo period, it may be quite difficult to appreciate ukiyo-e with the exact same feelings as the people of the time, even with preliminary knowledge. Then, how about looking at them from the viewpoint of the keywords “kawaii (cute)” and “okashii (funny)”? In ukiyo-e, there are many works of children and animals that we can intuitively react “kawaii!” There are also works depicting curious creatures and humorous scenes of people in slapstick comedies that are amusing to our eyes. Without being too occupied by facts, we may be able to experience a feeling, close to that of the people in the Edo period. We hope you enjoy the“kawaii” and “okashiiukiyo-e with all your heart.

Cute and funny creatures

Cute animals such as cats, dogs, rabbits and birds, witty racoon dogs, foxes, and peculiar fictional creatures are popular figures in ukiyo-e. Personifying any creature or object, from octopuses and frogs to ground cherries is a specialty of ukiyo-e artists.

Ijū “Arrowhead with Heron”

Utagawa Yoshikazu “Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō Road : Ōiso

Utagawa Yoshifuji “Monster Cutting Woman’s Hair”

Utagawa Kuniyoshi “Chinese Lanterns : Jumping from the Boat to Boat”

Cute children

Suzuki Harunobu “Five Shades of Ink : Poem by Somaru /Mischievous Girls”

The tender loving feeling we find in ourselves for innocent children is timeless. In ukiyo-e, we can find children playing with toys, enjoying festivals, or sometimes being grumpy.

Keisai Eisen “Enjoying Cool Evening Breeze”

Funny people

A genre of ukiyo-e called “giga (farcical pictures)” which depicts comical subjects was very popular during the Edo period. Slapstick comedies by humorous people and parodies of well-known classic stories were often illustrated by ukiyo-e artist. These ridiculous scenes are equally amusing for present-day viewers.

Utagawa Hiroshige “Fifty-three Pairings for the Tōkaidō Road : Futagawa

Utagawa Hirokage “Comical Views of Famous Places in Edo : No. 7, Strong Wind on Atarashi-bashi Bridge”

Cute or eccentric? – Design in Edo.

In ukiyo-e, we can often find cute motifs such as animals on kimono patterns. However, these motifs are sometimes surprisingly strange. In this section, let us look at cute and funny designs of kimono in ukiyo-e.

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni Ⅲ) “One Hundred Beautiful Women at the Famous Places in Edo : Higashi-Honganji Temple”

Utagawa Kunisada “Collection of Beautiful Women : Concubine”

Highlight of the exhibition

Artist Unknown “News of Lightning / Hōnen-uo (The fish of harvest)”                          

Don’t you think that the monster at the bottom reminds us one of the most famous monsters in a Japanese film? However, it gives off a weird sense of being poorly-made, and it is comical and funny than scary. In fact, this monster is a big fish that is said to have appeared in the Yodo River during the late Edo Period. According to the text in the picture, it had black moss on its back and its eyes were like mirrors. With a body like that of a weasel and legs like those of a turtle, it weighed 75 kilograms and had a length of 2.3 meters. Because the previous time this monster had appeared, there were years of bountiful harvest, people believed in its luck, and named him “Honen-Uo” (The fish of harvest). Despite its peculiar looks, it was in fact a monster of good luck.

Adult 700 yen
University and High school students 500 yen
Junior High School Students and below Free