All About Japan

Ukiyo-e Inspired Cutely Gothic Charms

| Gallery , Ukiyo-e

Utagawa Kuniyoshi is responsible for some of the most iconic ukiyo-e pieces ever created, and you’ve likely seen his work even if you don’t recognize his name. Even though he passed away over a 150 years ago, his art still resonates with contemporary audiences, perhaps due to its colorful and often whimsical nature.

A prime example can be found in his An Imaginary Scene of the Origin of the Cat Stone at Okabe, from the "Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido Road" pictured above. This particular ukiyo-e print is currently owned by the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, but will be on exhibit in Japan from March 19 to June 5, 2016 at the Bunkamura Museum of Art in Shibuya along with select pieces from Utagawa Kunisada, who was one of Kuniyoshi’s contemporaries and another ukiyo-e master.

And where there’s a special exhibit, you are also sure to find limited-edition items like these three charms that are designed to look like a dancing cat from the print above, a skull (made of cats, see below) and a skull engraved on a geta sandal!

Another of Kuniyoshi’s famous works is his depiction of Nozarashi Gosuke, one of Japan’s “Robin Hoods.” Two of the miniature figures above are based on this print as well. Can you find them? Here's a hint: look at the thing hanging off his sword, and then take a close look at the pattern on his shoulder.

In addition to the miniature figures, you’ll also be able to buy magnets bearing images of some of Kuniyoshi’s most famous ukiyo-e prints, like the Skeleton Specter and Giant Octopus from the Nameri River in Etchu picture above. There will also be magnets available with images of prints by Kunisada.

The miniature figures will be priced at ¥400 (US$3.50) each and the magnets are ¥200 ($1.75) apiece. All items will be available on March 19 when the exhibit opens. Even if you’re not interested in the goodies, you still won’t want to miss this collection of works by Kuniyoshi and Kunisada!

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