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.


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