All About Japan

Ukiyo-e Isn't Just Skin Deep

| Art , Ukiyo-e

Ukiyo-e, or “pictures of floating worlds,” were woodblock prints that became wildly popular during the Edo Period (1603-1868). The diverse subject matters ranged from travel scenes and landscapes to flora, erotica and even medical prints. And for a select group of artists who created a series of personified anatomical depictions of internal bodily functions, it would appear that being a great artist wasn’t enough: they also had to be immersed in the inner workings of the human body.

Inshoku Yojo Kagami (“Mirror of the Physiology of Drinking and Eating” [seen above]) depicts a male sitting in front of a meal and drinking sake. The title is sometimes translated as “Rules of Dietary Life” and was created by Utagawa Kunisada, who portrayed small figures within the torso, directing the organs and indicating the different stages of the digestive system.

Spoon & Tamago has the full scoop, including more intricate internal ukiyo-e images. Click on the link below to see more!

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