Ukiyo-e ruiko

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  • Published: c. 1800-1802
  • Japanese: 浮世絵類考 (Ukiyo-e ruikou)

Ukiyo-e ruikô, literally "Various Thoughts on Ukiyo-e", is a collection of writings on the subject by Ôta Nanpo, Santô Kyôden, Sasaya Kuninori, and others. Later editions included additional writings by Shikitei Sanba, Saitô Gesshin, and others.

One of the most famous and oft-cited segments of the book describes the career of the mysterious artist Sharaku. The text asserts that, in the attempt to capture the true character of kabuki actors, Sharaku portrayed them "not as they really appear", in grotesque ways not in accordance with standard modes, and cites this as the key reason that his career was so short.

A later addition by Saitô Gesshin is the earliest assertion that Sharaku was actually a Noh actor from Awa province by the name of Saitô Jûrôbei.

The original text is no longer extant, and seems to have come into being around 1789, when Ôta Nanpo played a role in editing or compiling it. Sasaya Kuninori added a description of ukiyo-e lineages in 1800, entitled Yamato ukiyo-e no shikei (大和浮世絵の始系), and Nanpo made further edits in 1802.

The text was further revised in 1818 by Shikitei Sanba, and Keisai Eisen appended his own thoughts in 1833. By this point, the text had come to be known by a number of different titles, including Zoku ukiyo-e ruikô (続浮世絵類考), indicating it to be a later edition, or supplement. Another version, titled Zôho ukiyo-e ruikô (増補浮世絵類考) appeared in 1844, edited and expanded by Saitô Gesshin, and more explicitly titled as an expanded version. The final Edo period version of the text was created and published in the final year of the Edo period, 1868, by Tatsutaya Shûkin, who titled his version Shin-zôho ukiyo-e ruikô (新増補浮世絵類考), or "New Expanded Various Thoughts on Ukiyo-e."

No version of the text was published (i.e. printed and made widely available) in the Edo period, the document existing only in manuscript form until the modern period[1].


  • Tanaka, Hidemichi. "Sharaku is Hokusai: On Warrior Prints and Shunro's (Hokusai's) Actor Prints." Artibus et Historiae 20:39 (1999). pp183-185.
  • Ukiyo-e Ruikou. JAANUS. 2001. Accessed 28 February 2010.
  • Ukiyo-e ruikô. Nihon Kokugo Daijiten. Shogakukan, Inc. Accessed via JapanKnowledge online resource, 28 February 2010.
  1. Nelson Davis, Julie. "Artistic Identity and Ukiyo-e Prints: The Representation of Kitagawa Utamaro to the Edo Public." in Takeuchi, Melinda (ed.). The Artist as Professional in Japan. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004. p118.