Monthly Peace Challenge: Art Thou Peaceful…with Ukiyo-e?

Sixteen-year old, Kazuya, knows his future profession. His father tries to tell him differently. No, son, you must rise up into the shogun class if all possible. Don’t follow the ways of your poor father. I can barely put food on the table working as an artist and part-time fireman.”

“But Father, I watch you work making many beautiful wood-block prints to sell. You know I have the skills because you taught me well. Please, please give me your blessings. I only want to be an ukiyo-e artist like you,” Kazuya spoke firmly as he held and admired one of his father’s most recent prints.

ukiyo-e

With a sigh and apprehension, Kazuya’s seventy-year-old father shuffles slowly over to his oldest son. He motions Kazuya to walk with him.

One Hundred Famous Views of Edo #113, "Ao...

“Son, an artist’s life is not easy. You are at the bottom of the social class. You work hard but gain very little money. Nevertheless, there is no other life but an artist’s life to find peace in your soul. Inspiration to create beautiful art is abundant here in Kyoto. Just observing everyday life gives your senses an intoxicated shot like that from a warm glass of saké. From the beautiful geishas, courtesans, lovely tea houses, Kabuki actors and majestic landscapes, you long always to drink in this ukiyo-e world. I failed as a good provider for my family, but I have come to know great peace because this “floating world” or ukiyo-e* of the common people.”

Kazuya’s father suddenly stops walking and gently pulls his son closer whispering,

“Ah, your mother named you well, Kazuya. Go now, you have my blessings, peaceful one.”

Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Hiroshige)

under the shoguns
isolated from the world
floating peace prospers

* * *

*Ukiyo-e loosely translates to “floating world” or world of the common people. The -e translates to pictures and together it means, floating world pictures. From the 17th to the 19th century, this Japanese art movement, Ukiyo-e, flourished. Japan experienced great peace especially during the 17th century under the ruling Tokugawa shogunate. It was in the heart of the city where artists like Hokusai and Hiroshige produced the beautiful wood-block art style.

Inspiration for this haibun fictional story comes from the Monthly Peace Challenge hosted by Everyday Gurus. The challenge this month was to create a post “about the intersection of art and peace.” Kozo asks:

“What piece(s) of art makes you a more peaceful person?”

-Images source: Wikimedia Commons

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20 thoughts on “Monthly Peace Challenge: Art Thou Peaceful…with Ukiyo-e?

  1. angelswhisper2011 says:

    Fabulous post! I like the last picture of the horse and your haiku, so that means your artwork in the first place makes us peaceful, but the same effect have paintings of trees on us and paintings/statures of animals. Rosina Wachtmeister and Jim Shore are our favorites and Egyptian cats. Have a sunny weekend 🙂

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    • Sunshine says:

      Egyptian cats are beautiful…like you, Little Binky. *wink-wink*
      i really love the horse wood-print and tried very hard to include it in this post…☺
      thanks, Angelsw. and LB! ♥

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  2. Sonel says:

    What a stunning post indeed Sunshine and you’ve written the story so well hon. Thanks for sharing and have a beautiful weekend. 🙂 *big hugs*

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  3. Kozo Hattori says:

    Sunshine, you are incredible. How is it that you know more about Japanese culture than I do, being a Japanese American? I love this story. I was thinking that you could change “artist” to “blogger” and you would describe a lot of our work in the blogosphere.
    So much peace in the artwork, the history, the story, and the poem. I used to admire samurai, but your post makes me realize that the artists are the ones we should pay homage to. Why do we glorify soldiers and ignore artists?
    Thank you so much for this amazing post on the power of art to bring peace. {{{Hugs}}}} Kozo

    p.s.
    One thing that confused me was your shift from 3rd person to 1st person in the line, “My father suddenly stops walking and gently pulls me closer.” Am I missing something here?

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    • Sunshine says:

      when you posted the challenge of course horses came to my mind, but really, the Japanese culture exudes peace somehow. as i researched this time period, the culture had four classes with the warriors being on top, next the farmers, then artists and last, at the bottom of the heap,merchants. i guess during this time the artist and merchants were lower since Japan had very little contact with the outside world. the soldiers in power and the farmers provided protection and sustenance for the people. in order to keep peace within, i imagine the artists and merchants found ways to entertain themselves. just my wild guess. good thing too. i really love these wood-print art, some of the more erotic ones really surprise you. they did create peaceful images during that time. thanks, Kozo!! ☼sunHUGS!!

      p.s. thank you for the edit check. funny how you write and never notice person shifts…no, you are totally intact…nothing missing. just my crazy brain at two a.m. ☺

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  4. Alison says:

    Just delightful! What a lovely story well told. And a quote for Kozo – A civilization is only as great as its dreams, and it’s dreams are dreamed by artists.

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  5. Madhu says:

    Beautiful story and concept! Artists are the true chroniclers of history, our windows to our cultures. Sadly their freedom has been under attack from some fanatic sections in India, and I don’t think that portends well for our society.

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    • Sunshine says:

      i was not aware of attacks on artistic freedoms in sections of India. how awful! may those persecuted find great courage and perseverance to keep their creativity work flowing.
      thanks for sharing, Madhu.

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  6. Arindam says:

    What a thoughtful post, Sunshine!! Well done!!
    I liked the message a lot. I can tell you that, it’s never easy to be part of any creative process initially. We humans are the most insecure species. So somehow it’s not easy to stick to any art form unless we have the inspiration and confidence in us to make it big someday.

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    • Sunshine says:

      thank you, Arindam! anything we consider worthy in life usually does not come easy…for most anyway. sometimes we have to go through long periods of time without any signs of success or value. people who stay with their true passion usually do so because they know they were called to that way of life. so whether they “make it big” or not makes no difference.

      just a thought…thanks for sharing!! ☺

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