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Autumn Moon In Japanese Woodblock Prints

autumn moon in japanese woodblock prints
Shibata Zeshin, Autumn Grasses in Moonlight, 1872, source: Wikiart

Japanese art

Autumn Moon In Japanese Woodblock Prints

Anyone living in the Northern Hemisphere looked up in the sky in the past couple of days? I did, mostly to admire the full moon which brought to Venice the first cold winds, an obvious sign that summer officially belongs to the past. Anyone living by the water will probably confirm that views that the days on the threshold of the autumn offer have something transcendental in them, and it’s a thing which doesn’t change in centuries as we can see in these 19th-century Japanese woodblock prints.

Moon by Hiroshige

Utagawa Hiroshige, Autumn Moon at Ishiyama, ca. 1834, source: ukiyo-e.org, autumn moon in japanese woodblock prints

Utagawa Hiroshige, Autumn Moon at Ishiyama, ca. 1834, source: ukiyo-e.org

Utagawa Hiroshige ( 歌川 広重) is considered the last great master of the woodblock printing and painting tradition of Ukiyo-e, which developed in the 17th century Edo, modern Tokio. He is mostly known for depictions of nature, which was, however, an unusual subject for Ukiyo-e, which portrayed the world of courtesans, actors and urban entertainment.

Utagawa Hiroshige, Autumn flowers in front of full moon, 1853, source: Wikiart, autumn moon in japanese woodblock prints

Utagawa Hiroshige, Autumn flowers in front of full moon, 1853, source: Wikiart

Utagawa Hiroshige, Autumn Moon at Tama River - Edo Kinko Hakkei, ca.1829 - 33, source: ukiyo-e.org, autumn moon in japanese woodblock prints

Utagawa Hiroshige, Autumn Moon at Tama River – Edo Kinko Hakkei, ca.1829 – 33, source: ukiyo-e.org

Moon by Eisen

Keisai Eisen, Autumn Moon over Atago Hill (Atagosan no aki no tsuki) rom the series Eight Views of Edo, 1846, source: Wikiart, autumn moon in japanese woodblock prints

Keisai Eisen, Autumn Moon over Atago Hill (Atagosan no aki no tsuki) from the series Eight Views of Edo, 1846, source: Wikiart

Keisai Eisen (渓斎 英泉) was seven years older than Hiroshige. His works focused mostly on portraits of ‘beautiful women’- bijin-ga. Maybe that’s why he’s regarded a master of the ‘decadent’ Bunsei Era, which lasted approx. from 1818 to 1830?

Moon by Zeshin

Shibata Zeshin, Autumn Grasses in Moonlight, 1872, source: Wikiart, autumn moon in the japanese woodblock prints

Shibata Zeshin, Autumn Grasses in Moonlight, 1872, source: Wikiart


Shibata Zeshin‘s (柴田 是真), art was not liked at all in Japan: he was considered an epigone of the others who did nothing of his own and a panderer to the Europeans who painted only what pleased the West. He worked slightly later than Hiroshige, active between the late Edo period and early Meiji era, which began in 1868.

Moon by Chikanobu

Toyohara Chikanobu, Monday: autumn moon over Sumida River, 1895, Wikiart, autumn moon in the japanese woodblock prints

Toyohara Chikanobu, Monday: autumn moon over Sumida River, 1895, source: Wikiart

Also Toyohara Chikanobu (豊原周延), known to his contemporaries as Yōshū Chikanobu(楊洲周延) worked during the Meji period. He was first a military in the famous Shōgitai corpse, and after their surrender in the Battle of Ueno in 1868, he decided to make a living as an artist.

Moon by Toyokuni II

Utagawa Toyokuni II, Autumn moon at Tamagawa, two boats fishing at night, c.1830, source: Wikiart, autumn moon in japanese woodblock prints

Utagawa Toyokuni II, Autumn moon at Tamagawa, two boats fishing at night, c.1830, source: Wikiart


Utagawa Toyokuni II was adopted by another artist, Toyokuni I, he became his pupil and later his son-in-law (ah, these family links). He worked during the Edo period, before his teacher’s death in 1826 he used another name, Toyoshige (豊重), then he switched to simple Toyokuni (豊国) but another pupil of Toyokuni I, Kunisada, didn’t accept it and on top of that he declared himself the leader of Toyokuni school.

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After the autumn moon comes the snow and winter – these are depicted in the Japanese woodblock prints Ukiyo-e. However, if you don’t like winter maybe you’re in a mood for Hokusai’s (thirty) six views of Mount Fuji? And if not, we have something which sells best 😉

–> All You Must Know About Japanese Erotic Art, Shunga (18+)


Magda, art historian and Italianist, she writes about art because she cannot make it herself. She loves committed and political artists like Ai Weiwei or the Futurists; like Joseph Beuys she believes that art can change us and we can change the world.

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