Ukiyo-e, translated as “pictures of the floating world,” has uniquely captured wisps of the natural beauty that one sees around us every day. The term “floating world” comes from the Buddhist idea about how temporary life on earth is. For Buddhists, this means that our time on earth feels like suffering. It’s just a step on the way to enlightenment. In some ways, the pictures of these floating worlds were like depictions of everyday life.
“living only for the moment, savouring the moon, the snow, the cherry blossoms, and the maple leaves, singing songs, drinking wine, and diverting oneself in simply floating, unconcerned by the prospect of imminent poverty, buoyant and carefree, like a gourd carried along with the current of the river…” Asai Ryoi, Tales of the Floating WorldThe Ukiyo-e artist saw that the everyday world has its own beauty. They made prints as a way to show how happy they were. The first prints were just black and white. Over time, the artists started to colour their prints with vegetable dyes and a separate wood block for each colour.