If you, like me, are a fan of Japanese woodblock prints, you’ll be excited to learn of Ukiyo-e-- a  gigantic archive of high quality images of Ukiyo-e prints. These Japanese prints are images that depict stories of urban society and its sensual pleasures but also remind us of the transitory and fleeting nature of this life and our worldly delights. The word ‘Ukiyo-e’ translates to pictures of the floating world. Many of prints considered ukiyo-e were made in Japan during the Edo period between 1603 and 1868, a time characterized by much economic growth, isolationist foreign policies, strict social mores, and much celebrated arts. Much of the subject matter was Kabuki actors and pleasure courtesans but also included landscapes, bath rituals and even sexy scenes called shunga.  

Torii Kotondo

However, this database holds images from the mid 1700s to contemporary times totalling over 220,000 prints. And you can search by keyword or if you have a photo you’d like to find the authorship for, you can search by uploading a picture. The sources for the images are museums, libraries, auction house, dealers, and universities across the world. There is strong metadata for most images and the information is in both Japanese and English.

Ohno Bakhufu Crysanthemum print

Ukiyo-e prints were also hugely influential to many Western artists particularly around the early 19th century like Van Gogh, Degas, Gauguin, Lautrec and many more. Check out the database. It’s an amazing resource for scholars, students, and anyone wanting to look at Ukiyo-e prints across periods and styles.  

Ohno Bafuku print