Ukiyo-e 浮世絵 , "pictures of the floating world", is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints (or woodcuts) and paintings produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries, featuring motifs of landscapes, tales from history, the theatre and pleasure quarters. It is the main artistic genre of woodblock printing in Japan.
The "floating world" (ukiyo) refers to the impetuous urban culture that bloomed and was a world unto itself. Although the traditional classes of Japanese society were bound by numerous strictures and prohibitions, the rising merchant class was relatively unregulated, therefore "floating." - wikipedia
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