Abuna-e (Risqué pictures): Ukiyo-e which illustrate mildly erotic scenes.
Aiban: a print size between chuban and ôban; 13-1/2 x 8-3/4 inches (34 x 22 cm).
Aizuri-e (Blue printed pictures): prints done in shades of blue and which were seen in the prints of the late 1820s to 1840s. An attempt to evade the government's austerity edicts against the more colorful nishiki-e.
Ajari (literally, "holy man"): a Buddhist title.
Akita ranga style: name given to the type of pseudo-Western painting done in Akita in the 18th century, which combined the Western chiaroscuro and perspective of Dutch engravings with the detailed naturalism of some Chinese 18th-century painting.
Ako: town in Harima, famous for its daimyo Asano Naganori and the "Forty-seven Ronin".
Akoya: famous courtesan of Kyoto, mistress of the Heika captain of the Kagekiyo.
Ami: the name of the family of hereditary artistic advisers and painters to the shogunate in the 15th and 16th centuries. Nôami, his son Geiami, and his grandson Sôami were the most important members.
Amida: the Buddha Amida, Lord of Infinite Light; the most widely worshiped of all the manifestations of the Buddha.
Amida triad: the Buddha Amida between two Bodhisattvas.
Angya: a pilgrimage made by a disciple from one Zen master to another.
Aohon: Illustrated booklets, predecessors of the Kibyoshi.
Aragoto (Rough stuff): highly stylized and fierce acting style in the Kabuki theatre.
Aratame: censorship seal, used from early 1854-1871; or "name changed to" used by artists when adopting a new nom de plume.
Asazuma-bune: boat used by "floating harlots".
Ashi-naga: long-legged mythical personages.
Asuka-yama: hill at Oji, north of Edo, famous for it's cherry blossoms.
Atago: Shinto god who protects tuns from fires.
Atami: seaport in Izo, famous for it's hot springs.
Atari: a successful stage play.
Ato-zuri: a late impression of a print.
Ayatori: the game of cat's cradle.
Azukari: chief artist and director of the Edokoro. He combined functions of court painter and keeper of the imperial collection of paintings.
Azuma nishiki-e (literally, "eastern embroidered pictures"): paintings in many colors resembling silk embroideries from Azuma, or Eastern Japan.
Azusa: catalpa, wood used for early printing blocks.
Bakufu: military government under a shogun, extended from 1200 to 1868.
Bamboo: symbol of virtue and fidelity.
Bamboo and Spanous: a common art theme, symbolic of gentleness and friendship.
Bando: the Tokaido provinces.
Baren: a circular pad that was wrapped in a sheath of bamboo fiber and which was used in the woodblock printing process.
Bat: (Komori) the traditional symbol of good fortune.
Beni-e (Red [beni] pictures): prints in which beni (red) was applied by hand with a brush to a black and white print.
Benigirai-e (red-hating picture): a print with no red (pink) pigments.
Benizuri-e (Pink printed pictures): prints using pale pastel shades; they are principally found in prints of 1790.
Benkie: the 13th century soldier-monk of Hieizan; later, trusted advisor to Yoshitsune.
Benten: goddess of learning and good fortune.
Benzaiten: female deity of speech and learning. Depicted as a beautiful woman, she bestows ability, wisdom, and good fortune.
Bijin (beautiful women): Bijinga were pictures of beautiful women.
Bijinga: pictures of beautiful women.
Bikuni: a Buddhist nun; also a disguise adopted by itinerant prostitutes.
Bimbo-gami: the god of poverty.
Bishamonten: one of the Seven Gods of Luck, also called Tamonten. Holds a pagoda in his left hand, a spear in his right; guards the north.
Biwa: a lute with four strings
Biwa-hoshi: blind minstrels who play the biwa.
Biwa-ko: (Lake Biwa) in Ômi province, near Kyoto, renowned for its beautiful scenery, the so-called "Eight Views".
Bizen-za: an Edo puppet theater.
Black Ships: (Kuro-fune) the Japanese expression for Perry's Fleet.
Bodhidharma (Japanese: Daruma): Indian monk who came to China in 520 and founded the Ch'an (Zen) sect of Buddhism.
Bodhisattva (Japanese: Bosatsu): Buddhist deity who has renounced Buddhahood in order to work for the salvation of all beings.
Bokashi: a technique employed by the printer to provide shading or graduation in the areas printed in color.
Bon: the Festival of the Dead, July 13th to 15th.
Bonsai: dwarfed, potted trees.
Bonshi: Buddhist title. When prefixed to a name, it indicates that the individual had been previously attached to a heretical sect before accepting Buddhism.
Bosatsu: see Bodhisattva.
Bozu: Buddhist monk, a bonze.
Brahma: Indian deity, the supreme god of the Brahmans; worshiped in Japan as Bonten, guardian of the Buddhist law and protector of the world.
Buke: the military class.
Bunraku: puppet theater.
Bushi: a warrior.
Bushido: the way of the Samurai.
Byôbu: a folding screen.
Carp (koi): symbol of great aspirations and strength, often represented leaping a waterfall.
Catfish (namazu): Traditionally thought to be the cause of earthquakes.
Cats (neko): often credited with supernatural powers.
Cha-no-yu: the tea ceremony.
Chambara: sword fighting in Kabuki dramas.
Chapbook: name used for the publications of popular literature, cheap in price and illustrated with woodblock prints.
Chaya (-jaya): a teahouse or restaurant.
Chidori: a plover.
Chirimen-e: a creped print, reduced in size by crinkling between two beveled boards.
Choki-bune: a small open boat.
Chônin (Townsmen): the term included the artisan and merchant class who lived in the urban centers of the Edo period.
Chozu-bachi: a water cistern, basin for washing hands.
Chrysanthemum: a symbol of purity. The 16-petal variety is the Imperial badge.
Chûban: a medium print size: 10 x 7-1/2 inches (26 x 19 cm).
Chûgen: a samurai's manservant.
Chukei: a large folding fan.
Crane: a symbol of longevity.
Crow (karasu): thought to be a messenger of the gods.
Cuckoo: a symbol of summer.
Daibutsu: giant statues of Budda.
Daijin: a minister of state.
Daikoku-mai: a festive dance.
Daikon: a large radish.
Daimyo: a major feudal.
Dango: a dumpling.
Daruma: see Bodhidharma.
Deer: symbol of longevity.
-dera: suffix meaning (Buddhist) temple.
Dosa: a preparation applied to paper or silk as a sizing agent.
Doton-bori: the Osaka theater district.
Dragon (ryu): a concept imported from China, the dragon is full of remarkable powers, a sign of majesty and high aspirations; depicted ascending in clouds across Mt. Fuji, it is a symbol of success in life.
Dragonfly (akitsu): a symbol of Japan and of victory.
Dreams (yume): New year's dreams of Mt. Fuji, falcons, and eggplants were considered lucky omens.
-e: a suffix meaning picture or print.
Ebisu: one of the Seven Gods of Luck, guardian of fisherman.
Edo: early name of Tôkyô and of the historical period 1600-1868.
Edori-bon: early printed books with hand-colored illustrations.
E-goyomi: a pictorial calendar with concealed symbols denoting the long and short months.
Ehon (Picture books): Books in which a greater emphasis has been placed on pictures than text.
Ema: votive painting, dedicated to shrines and temples.
Emaki: see emakimono.
Emakimono: horizontal scroll painting.
Emma: in Buddhist iconography, a king of hell, who pronounces judgment on the dead.
Engawa: a porch, veranda, or balcony.
Eshi: a master painter.
E-zoshi: an illustrated novelette or booklet.
Fenollosa, Ernest F. (1853-1908): Harvard graduate who went to Japan in 1878 to lecture on philosophy, political science, and economics. As a great supporter of Japanese traditional art, he helped establish the system for classifying National Treasures.
Fontanesi, Antonio (1818-1881): an Italian painter working in the Barbizon style. Came from the Turin Royal Academy of Art; was invited to teach at the Kôbu Daigaku Bijutsu Gakkô. A great influence on early Japanese Western-style painting.
Fox (kitsume): often considered to be an evil creature, capable of demonic possession; but also the popular representation of Inari, the benign god of rice.
Fujikawa: the river (73 miles long) that flows from the west of Mt. Fuji and empties into Suruga Bay.
Fujiwara: the ruling family of Japan in the Heian period (10th and 11th centuries).
Fukei-za: a landscape print or painting.
Fukko yamato-e: the conscious revival of yamato-e painting in the 19th century.
Fukujuso: adonis plant (symbol of New Year).
Fukusei: a reproduction; facsimile.
Fukusuke: a humorous figure, symbolizing prosperous business.
Fumi: writings, letters.
Furoshiki: a cloth used for wrapping objects to be carried.
Fusuma: sliding doors, made on a wooden frame and covered with thick paper that is sometimes decorated with paintings or calligraphy. The doors can either divide rooms or close off cupboards.
-ga: a suffix meaning "picture by". Often used as the last character to a signature.
Gauffrage: in woodblock printing, embossing achieved by printing from uncolored blocks.
Gefu: an album.
Geijutsu: fine arts.
Gempi: a type of strong, handmade paper.
Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji): the greatest novel in early Japanese literature, written in the first decade of the 11th century by Lady Murasaki; it mirrors the court life and the aesthetic preoccupation of the Heian aristocracy.
Genre: representations of scenes from everyday life.
Genroku: the name of the era (nengô) from 1688-1704, noted for its luxury.
Geisha: a woman entertainer, accomplished in music, dancing, conversation. Popular from the 1750's onward.
Giga: term meaning "drawn for amusement".
Gigaku: ancient dance in which masks covering the entire head were worn. See also Bugaku.
Ginkakuji: the Silver Pavilion, northeast of Kyoto.
Gô: an artist's "pen name" or pseudonym; a board game of skill (Japanese checkers).
Gofun: an opaque white pigment made from either lead white or pulverized oyster shells. Often splashed on a print to imitate effects such as snow in a three dimensional manner.
Goyô eshi: a master painter employed by the court or bakufu.
Grass script: the cursive script, called sôsho in Japanese, in which the characters are extremely abbreviated.
-gu: suffix meaning (Shintô) shrine.
Gyosho: an informal style of calligraphy.
Haboku: in monochrome ink painting, the "flung-ink" technique.
Hachimaki: the cloth headband worn in preparation for strenuous activity.
Hachiman: Shintô deity, god of war.
Haiga: painting plus haiku.
Haikai: a short verse form, limited to 17 syllables arranged in the pattern of 5-7-5, brought to perfection by Matsuo Basho (1644-1694). At present, haiku is the more popular term for this type of verse, haikai the more academic.
Haiku: see haikai.
Hakma: wide trousers.
Hakkake: the technique of overprinting.
Hako-ya: a servant who accompanies a geisha.
Hanami: flower viewing, usually cherry blossoms; a popular leisure time activity.
Hanga: woodblock print.
Han Shan (Japanese: Kanzan): one of two (the other is Shih Te) Chinese comic sages and practitioners of Ch'an Buddhism who lived in a Chinese monastery in the 7th century. They are regarded as incarnations of Bodhisattvas.
Hankoku: a reprint.
Haori: a coat worn over a kimono.
Happi: a short jacket.
Harimaze: prints of two or more subjects on one sheet.
Hasegawa: the school of painting founded by Hasegawa Tôhaku, who claimed artistic descent from Sesshû. This school was an outgrowth of Muromachi suiboku painting. The style of the later members can hardly be distinguished from contemporary Kanô painting.
Hanshita-e: the finished drawing of a print that is pasted on a block of wood to be carved to produce the keyblock.
Hashira-e: pillar print or painting. A long, narrow picture sized 27-1/2 to 29-1/2 x 4-3/4 to 6 inches (70-75 x 12-15 cm) and hung on an interior post as a decoration.
Heian: early name of Kyôto and of the historical period 794-1185.
Heiji Monogatari: the story of the Heiji insurrection in 1159, which began the struggle between the Taira and Minamoto families.
Hibachi: ceramic, metal, or wood brazier in which charcoal is burned to warm a room.
Hexaptych: a continuous series of six prints.
Hibachi: a charcoal brazier. Hideyoshi (Toyotomi Hideyoshi; 1536-1598): military dictator. Born a peasant, served Oda Nobunaga, and in 1582 became ruler of Japan.
Hikite-jaya: a teahouse in the pleasure quarter.
Hina: a doll.
Hinawa: tug of war.
Hiragana: one of the two phonetic Japanese scripts.
-hitsu: a suffix meaning "brush of". Often used as the last character to a signature.
Hori (-bori): carving, chiseling, or engraving of lacquer.
Hosho: a handmade paper used for color prints.
Hosoban: a narrow vertical print sized 13 x 5-5/8 inches (33 x 14.5 cm).
Hyogo: a port now part of Kobe.
Ibuki-yama: a mountain in Omi, the scene of several legendary tales.
Ichiri-zuke: highway milestones.
Ieyasu (1542 1616): member of the Tokugawa family; prominent in the armies of Nobunaga, became master of Japan after Hideyoshi's death; founder and greatest head of the Tokugawa shogunate.
Inari: popular god of rice and crops; often symbolized as a fox.
Inrô: a small box, usually of lacquer, for holding drugs or ointment, carried at the waist by men of the Edo period.
Ippai: print editions; the number of prints printed in one batch (historically 200).
Iro-ita: the color block(s) used in polychrome printing.
Ishidoro: a stone lantern.
Japanese-style painting; this term refers to the work of those painters who, from about the mid-19th century to the present, have painted Japanese subjects in Japanese media and as a rule have not belonged to any of the older schools of painting.
Joshi: term meaning "published", used in book colophons.
Juro: one of the Seven Gods of Luck, god of longevity, traditionally represented as an old, bearded man with cap and cane, accompanied by an aged black deer.
Kabuki: popular form of theatre that developed in the urban culture of Edo in the 17th century, and which was an important subject in Japanese woodblock prints.
Kaburo (kamuro): a girl attendant to a courtesan.
Kachô-e (Flower and bird painting): a term used to designate a genre in prints and painting with bird-and-flower themes.
Kagi (kento): in woodblock printing, the right-angle guide mark of kento registration.
Kago: a palanquin.
Kakemono-e (Hanging scroll picture): a vertical ôban diptych: 30 x 9 inches (76.5 x 23 cm).
Kakemono: vertical scroll painting, made to hang on a wall.
Kamban: theatrical signboards or posters.
"Kambun Beauties": pictures of bijin dating from the Kambun era (1661-1673).
Kameido: an eastern suburb of Edo; its Tenjin Shrine was celebrated for its plum blossoms and wisteria.
Kamigata-e: the name of the school of printmakers and book illustrators who worked in Kyôto and ôsaka, generally in the ukiyo-e manner, in the 18th and 19th centuries. However, some of the artists were members of the Kanô and nanga schools.
Kannon: Japanese name for Kuan Yin.
Kappa: a winter raincoat.
Kappa-suri: stencil painting.
Keyblock: block used to print the outlines of a print. It is cut from the finished drawing (hanshita-e) of the copyist and is the first block to be printed.
Kibyôshi: yellow-cover books. Generally cheap popular novels, so called because they were always bound in yellow covers.
Kichijôten: goddess of fortune, depicted as a beautiful woman in ceremonial dress.
Kintaro: child of the forest, picked up by the mountain hag Yama-uba, who adopted and named him Kaido-maru; frequent subject in ukiyo-e.
Kirara-e: prints with mica background.
Kira-zuri: mica-ground impression, usually printed with mother-of-pearl dust.
Kirl: the pawlonia tree.
Kiwame: censorship seal used in prints from about 1790 to 1842.
Kizuri-e: prints with yellow background.
Koban: a format used for smaller print sizes: it was frequently half the aiban or chûban sizes.
Koma-e: pictorial cartouche within a print.
Koro: incense burner.
Koto: a kind of zither with a long, narrow sounding board and strings of twisted silk.
Kozo: plant fibre, used in making paper for prints.
Kuan Yin: the most popular Bodhisattva, generally represented as the god of mercy; in China and Japan, usually considered a female deity.
Kubari-bon: privately printed books or albums.
Kuchi-e: inset illustrations to novels.
Kuro-hon: books in black covers; cheap, popular novels with illustrations on every page.
Kusa-zuri-e: prints in green and yellow.
Kyodai: a mirror stand.
Kyôga: "crazy" drawing; comic sketches.
Kyogo-zuri: proof impressions.
Kyoto: city in Yamashiro Province, founded in A.D. 794. Until 1868 the residence of the Imperial Court and hence the capital city of Japan.
Lobsters (ise-ebi): symbolic of honorable old age.
Longevity: symbolized by pine, bamboo, crane, deer, stork, tortoise, gourd, peach, and lobster.
Lotus Flowers: symbolic of purity and Buddahood.
Maiko: a young girl in training to become a geisha.
Meisho-ki (Records of Famous Places): illustrated guides of famous places published for travelers and pilgrims.
Mikoshi: a portable shrine.
Mingei: folk art.
Mochi: rice cakes.
Mokuhan: woodblock printing.
Momotaro: "Little Peachling", a favorite fairy tale of an adventurous boy.
Mon (Family crest): an identifying crest or emblem, often found on the clothes of actors or historical figures.
Monogatari: a story, tale, or novel.
Musha-e (Warrior picture).
Naga-e (naga-ban): a long, narrow print, about 20 x 9 inches.
Nagasaki-e (Nagasaki pictures): souvenir prints made at Nagasaki which primarily represent foreigners and their ships.
Namban (literally, "southern barbarian"): a term applied to the first Europeans to appear in Japan (mid-16th century).
Netsuke: toggle used in suspending an inrô or a tobacco pouch from the obi.
Nihonbashi: the bridge in the center of Edo, starting point of the Tokaido highway.
Nihonga (Japanese-style painting): a Meiji-period and later style based in traditional Japanese painting which employed ink and watercolor on silk and paper.
Nishiki-e (Brocade pictures): prints which employ multiple color blocks of more than ten colors.
Nô (or Noh): classical drama of the aristocratic classes. Contrary to Kabuki, Nô was not regularly portrayed on prints. Nô is characterized by its use of masks.
Ôban: a large print size measuring 15 x 10-1/4 inches (38 x 26 cm).
Obi: a wide long sash on a kimono.
Odoriko: dancing girl, predecessor of geisha.
Ôkubi-e (large-head pictures): a painting or print showing either only the head or the head and upper part of the torso.
Onnagata: a male actor impersonating a woman in the Kabuki theatre.
Orihon (Folding book): concertina or accordion book.
Osaka print school: a group of artists who devoted themselves almost entirely to theatrical subjects. The prints are easily recognized by a certain hardness of treatment, combined with brilliance of coloring. In their training, many of the artists owed allegiance to Shun'ei, Hokusai, and Kunisada. Their whole output was probably produced between 1820 and 1845. Issues of 2- and 4-sheet prints were a specialty of Ôsaka (Edo prints were in 3 or 5 sheets). They also specialized in kappasuri.
Ôtanzaku (Print size): approximately 14-3/4 x 6-3/4 inches (37 x 17 cm). Derived from the shape of the poem slip (tanzaku).
Pentaptych: a composition of five sheets side by side.
Pillar print: see hashira-e.
Ranga: Western-style painting.
Ri: a league (2.439 miles/3.927 km).
Russo-Japanese War: 1904-1905.
Ryogoku: large bridge across the Sumida River in Edo.
Saké: Japanese rice wine.
-saku: a suffix meaning "work (of)". Often used as the last character to a signature.
Samisen: a three-stringed guitar-like instrument.
Sashi-e: a book illustration. Seiro (Green Houses): houses of courtesans.
Sekiban: a lithograph.
Sembei: rice crackers.
Sencha: tea ceremony using leaf tea instead of powdered tea.
Sensu: a type of light, folding fan.
Seppuku (hara-kiri): self-destruction by disemboweling.
Shibai-e: a theater print.
Shini-e: a memorial portrait.
Shintô (literally, "the way of the gods"): the national religion of Japan.
Shinzo ('Newly constructed'): a young girl of about 13 or 14 years of age who is apprenticed to become a courtesan.
Shin hanga (New prints): a print movement begun by the publisher Watanabe Shôzaburô in the early twentieth century that was based on the ukiyo-e tradition.
Shiro: a castle or redoubt.
Shô busshi: a minor Buddhist sculptor.
Shogun (Japanese: shôgun): title of the military dictators of Japan from the Kamakura period through the Edo period.
Shohon: a first edition. Shoji: sliding wall panels made of paper.
Shunga (Spring pictures): Ukiyo-e prints illustrating erotic subject matter.
Skakuhachi: flute-like wind instrument made of bamboo.
Sôsaku hanga (Creative prints): a print movement begun in the early twentieth century that advocated the artist's involvement in the creative process.
Sumi-e: painting done in Chinese ink.
Sumizuri-e: a black-and-white print.
Sumo: Japanese traditional wrestling.
Sumo-e: a wrestling print.
Surimono (Printed things): prints that were made in a limited edition and intended to be privately distributed. They were consequently often printed for special occasions and usually inscribed with a poem composed for the occasion.
Susuki: pampass grass. Suzuri-bako: a box containing writing utensils.
Tabi: Japanese-style socks.
Taiko: a large drum.
Tan-e (Red lead pictures): hand-colored print in which tan (red lead) is the dominant pigment. They were popular from 1670 to 1720.
Tanka: a short poem of 31 syllables, divided 5-7-5-7-7. The form appears among the early poems of the Man'yôshû.
Tanzaku: Half ôban size; the sizes included the ô-tanzaku (15 x 6-3/4 inches: 38 x 17 cm) and chu-tanzaku (15 x 5 inches: 38 x 13 cm).
Tatami: a floor mat.
Tate-e (Vertical print): ôban tate-e, a vertical ôban.
Tayû: the highest ranking courtesan and a popular subject in ukiyo-e, called oiran in Edo.
Tentôki: a goblin holding a lantern.
Tetraptych: a composition of four prints.
Toad (gama): animal credited with magical powers.
Tokaido (Eastern Sea Road): the main highway from Edo to Kyoto.
Torii: a symbolic gateway to the precincts of a Shinto Shrine.
Tosa: a school of painting founded in the early years of the Muromachi period. It carried on the Japanese painting tradition, known as yamato-e, of the Heian and Kamakura narrative scrolls. The name of the school, however, came into use in the first half of the 13th century, when it was adopted by Tsunetaka.
Tsuya-dashi (tsuya-zuri): the technique of overprinting in black to give a luster to special areas of a print.
Uchiwa: flat, round fan.
Uchiwa-e: a fan print, made to be mounted as a fan.
Uesugi Shigefusa: military lord of the Kamakura period; founder of the Uesugi family, members of which were advisers to the shoguns.
Uki-e (Floating pictures): painting in which a bird's-eye perspective is used to show the inside of a building or the whole of a landscape from above.
Ukiyo-e (Pictures of the floating world): prints and paintings illustrating the transient life, the "floating world" of the gay plebeian world of the Edo period (1600-1868).
Ukiyo-zôshi (Stories of the Floating World): a type of popular fiction of the period 1683-1783.
Unkoku school: founded by Unkoku Tôgan in the Momoyama period. Its members served the Môri clan as kakae-eshi (painters sponsored by a daimyo). Many of them lived in or near Hagi, Suô Province, the feudal capital of the clan. The style of painting was based on that of Sesshû. The school continued into the 18th century. The names of the artists usually begin with the character tô.
Urushi-e (Lacquer picture): Beni-e with the addition of glue to the pigments to give a lustrous finish, often sprinkled with metallic dust or mica.
Utagawa school: most prolific of the ukiyo-e schools. Founded by Utagawa Toyoharu in the late 18th century, it was continued by his pupils in the 19th century. Toyohiro and Toyokuni are among the best-known members.
Vairocana (Vairochana): central figure in the Kegon pantheon.
Waka: Japanese poetry composed of 31 syllables.
Washi: a type of handmade Japanese paper.
Western-style painting: the term refers to the work produced by artists working both technically and aesthetically in the Western manner from the early Meiji era to the present.
Yakko: a manservant to a samurai.
Yakusha-e (Actor pictures): painting or print of an actor.
Yoko-e (Horizontal picture; also called yoko-ban): prints with a horizontal format.
Yokohama: a port near Edo, opened to foreigners in 1859.
Yokohama-e (Yokohama pictures): late style of ukiyo-e which was popular between 1860 and 1880 and which illustrated scenes of Yokohama in the late Edo and the early Meiji.
Yoshiwara: name of the licensed quarter in Edo.
Yukata: an informal cotton kimono or bathrobe.
Zen: a meditative sect of Buddhism, introduced into Japan from China in the 13th Century.
Zojoji: a great Buddhist temple at Shiba (Edo).
Zori: a good quality sandal.