French English


Chūban: small print format, half an ōban, about 25 x 18 cm.

Daimyo: feudal lord.

Ehon: literally ‘picture book’; a book of illustrations accompanied by less important text. Often used in titles.

Fūkei-ga: images of landscapes.

Kabuki: Japanese theatre which uses elements of dance and music as well as acting. Popularly featured in
ukiyo-e prints.

Kibyōshi: yellow book; popular novels printed in black and taking their name from the colour of the cover,
about 17 x 12 cm.

Koban: small print format, about 23 x 17 cm.

Manga: refers to the Hokusai Manga, meaning a collection of sketches.

Nagaban: large print format, ranging from 47 x 17 cm to 52 x 25 cm.

Nishiki-e: literally ‘brocade picture’; polychrome woodblock print, and the final stage in the technical development of print-making, originating from 1765.

Ōban: the most common print format, about 38 x 25 cm.

Ō-ōban: literally ‘large ōban’; a rare size somewhat larger than standard ōban, about 58 x 32 cm.

Shikishiban: square format, often used for surimono, about 26 x 23 cm.

Shogun: literally ‘military commander’; Japanese military dictators, governing office of the country
from 1198 to 1868.

Shunga: literally ‘spring images’ (a typical euphemism for erotica); erotic images.

Sumizuri-e: literally ‘ink-printed picture’; monochrome woodblock print, using a special glossy ink (sumi).
The first ukiyo-e prints were produced with this technique.

Surimono: literally ‘printed things’; a luxurious, made-to-order print usually commissioned by private poetry clubs. Often used as invitations, notices, and holiday and greeting cards.

Uki-e: literally ‘floating pictures’; perspective prints done with the newly-introduced Western perspective technique, as opposed to the classical Chinese method of portraying depth and distance.

Ukiyo-e: literally ‘floating world picture’; a genre of woodblock prints and paintings meant to depict the hedonistic lifestyle of the rising merchant class of the Edo period, 17th-19th centuries. Typically featuring actors, courtesans, geishas, and sumo wrestlers, as well as landscapes, historical and mythological scenes, and erotica.

Yakusha-e: ‘actor prints’; portraits of kabuki actors.

Yoko-e: horizontal (landscape) orientation.

Yomihon: literally ‘reading books’; a book containing few illustrations, meant to provide moral instruction or advice.

Yoshiwara: literally ‘pleasure district’; the area in Edo frequented by men seeking night-time entertainment.

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