Red -The History of Ukiyo-e from the Perspective of Color

2022, March 4th-27th

Will be closed on March 7, 14 22.

Gorgeous Red Color in the Spotlight

Although ukiyo-e works are full of rich colors, red is the most important paint to make the whole work gorgeous and add tension to the piece. The exhibition will explore the beauty of red that fascinated people in the Edo and Meiji Era, by carefully selecting about 60 ukiyo-e paintings with impressive vivid red.

Katsukawa Shunchō “Kabuki Actor Iwai Hanshirō Ⅳ in Dance of Seven Changes”
Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni Ⅲ)” Thirty-two Contemporary Appearances: Woman of Fussy Appearance: Looking Fussy”

History of Ukiyo-e Made by Red

Red is the most common color used in terms for ukiyo-e production, such as “Beni-e” (hand-painted red pictures), “Benizuri-e” (prints with red and a few other colors), “Aka-e” (red pictures), and “Benigirai” (red-avoiding pictures). The changes in the use of red paints show the development of ukiyo-e techniques. We will introduce a new way of looking at ukiyo-e that you can enjoy by paying attention to red.

Ishikawa Toyonobu “Kabuki Actor Segawa Kichiji ⅡPlaying Shakkyō Dance”
Suzuki Harunobu “Beauties of the Floating World Compared to Flowers: Wisteria,  Nokaze of the Matsuzaka-ya House in the Southern Direction”
Kobayashi Kiyochika “Conflagration at Ryōgoku on January 26th in 1881”
Utagawa Kuniteru Ⅱ “Kyōbashi Bridge Seen from the Group of Brick Buildings in Tokyo”

Sharaku, Hiroshige and Yoshitoshi – Their Techniques of Using “Red”

Shades of red have varied over 200 years of ukiyo-e history. Although it was a pale color during Harunobu and Sharaku’s time, it became darker in Hiroshige and Kunisada’s time, and it became vivid and loud in the Meiji period when Yoshitoshi was active. We will introduce how red was used by popular ukiyo-e artists.

Tōshūsai Sharaku “Kabuki Actor Nakamura Noshio Ⅱas Ono-no Komachi”
Utagawa Hiroshige “Peonies and a Peacock”
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi “Beautiful Women Associated with the Seven Stars: Full Moon”

Highlight of the Exhibition

Utagawa Hiroshige “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo: Kinryūzan Temple at Asakusa”

Here is a snow scene of Sensōji Temple. It emphasizes the whiteness of snow by drawing the large lantern of the Kaminarimon gate in front, and even more so by placing vivid red in various places. Safflower, one of the pigments used to make red paint, was valuable, and was not often used to print large areas in vivid red. However, it seems that the supply and quality of red paint had improved by the end of the Edo period, and Hiroshige began to use a large amount of vivid red in his works. Changes in paints have had a great influence on the appeal of ukiyo-e.

Adult800 yen
University and High school students600 yen
Junior High School Students and belowFree


2022 3


1-3, 7,14,22,28-31

2022 / 3

1-3, 7,14,22,28-31