Ukiyo-e Prints Course | Exhibition Catalogs



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"Marching through the Floating World is a book that accompanies a student curated virtual exhibition of the same title. This exhibition is dedicated to images of processions in ukiyo-e woodblock prints.

Ukiyo-e or “pictures of the floating world” was a vibrant style of urban art that flourished in Japan in the 17th- 19th century, predominantly in the form of mass-produced woodcuts. Steeped in everyday pleasurable pastimes of townspeople, ukiyo-e prints reflected contemporary culture to its fullest, whether fact or fiction, often the two amalgamated in a witty way.

Processions constituted a noticeable theme in ukiyo-e prints as they were an integral part of the commoners’ visual experience. Daimyo processions were traveling from the warlords’ domains to the shogunal capital of Edo (Tokyo) and back as demanded by the sankin-kotai or alternate attendance system. Community processions with exotic floats were essential for matsuri, Shinto and Buddhist festivals. Art, however, goes beyond reality, and in ukiyo-e prints one sees daimyo processions parodied by beautiful women or mimicked by boys. Parades by foreign embassies also appear in ukiyo-e prints, primarily parades of the Korean embassies, often fantasized. Depicted were also processions of supernatural beings or imaginary nostalgic processions in prints of the Meiji era.

Students’ research essays on prints like those mentioned above (and more!) were compiled into a book, which together with educational wall labels, programming brochures and souvenirs constitute an outcome of an art history course taught at RISD in the fall of 2020. This is the eighth project of the kind. ..." -- Foreword, Marching Through the Floating World: Processions in Ukiyo-e Prints

Contributing Authors

Julie Alter, Kade Byrand, Cecilia Cao, Young Ju Choi, Nate Epstein-Toney, Emma Fujita, Catherine Hackl, Helina He Yuheng, Victoria Khrobostova, Benjamin Lamacchia, DaRong Lang, Sofie Levin, Julian Linares, Deirdre Rouse, Joshua Sun, Rauf Syunyaev, Tiffany Weng, Yue Xu, Yuanqing Echo Yao, Kaori Yasunagi, Manni Yu, Wei Zhang, Si Nong Summer Zheng, Holly Gaboriault.

Publication Date

Fall 2020


traditional format (bookbinding process), japanese


Elena Varshavskaya


Ukiyo-e Prints (H791)




Ukiyo-e prints, Nishimura Shigenaga, Utagawa Toyohiro, Kitagawa Utamaro, Kikukawa Eizan, Utagawa Toyokuni, Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa Yoshitora, Utagawa Yoshifuji, Toyohara Chikanobu, Edo period, Tokugawa shogunate, Meiji period; shogun, daimyo, warlord domains, sankin-kotai system of alternate attendance, governmental highways, wedding processions, parody processions, processions of courtesans, processions of boys, otherworldly processions of foxes, of mice, Ox Hour, ritual curse, Lucky New Year Dream, imaginary nostalgic processions, Ueno, Boshin War, Sannō festival procession, elephant, matsuri – Japanese festivals, reenactment of Korean embassies, mythical couple Otafuku and Fukusuke, palanquin, hasamibako chests, shell-matching game kai-awase, keyari – feather-topped sheaths of spears on long poles, sheathed halberd naginata, battlefield standard umajirushi, big umbrella daigasa


Art and Design | Japanese Studies | Theory and Criticism

Marching Through the Floating World: Processions in Ukiyo-e Prints (2020)



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