Digital Japanese History

絵本水や空、耳鳥斎 画、3冊 (合1冊) ; 23cm、平安、八文字屋八左衛門、安永9 [1780]、、出典:国立国会図書館「NDLイメージバンク」 (

Although not widely appreciated in the modern era until late in the twentieth century, the works these women created were vital in understanding not only the key styles and themes of Edo period art, but also the lives led by women at the time. Calligraphy and poetry styles were influenced by Chinese literati, and the themes female artists chose to reproduce varied from depictions of significant female figures, to Buddhist iconography, and scenic, naturalistic elements. Their chosen methods and subject matters were inspired dually by Edo trends and inspiration drawn from their daily lives; for example, Saikō’s rejection of Confucianism ideals surrounding the role of women as seen in her poetry. Understanding the art of the Edo period is essential for understanding the women artists of the Edo period themselves; we can begin to appreciate their pieces retroactively as windows into the past.