No. 35 (Goyu) of The Fifty-three Stages of the Tokaido, depicting a bustling station along the Tokaido.
(Source: Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Money Museum)
The ukiyo-e woodblock print developed during the Edo period as a form of inexpensive popular art that would be readily accessible to the general public. It arose out of one of the world's most advanced popular cultures of the time, serving not only as a means of artistic impression, but also as an important source of information. The artist's aim was to produce beautifully finished works incorporating a rich variety of detail about theater performances, actors and their costumes, and hair styles and fashions worn by the beauties of the day. Subject matter also included station towns along the Tokaido highway, places of scenic beauty around the country, and local specialties, as well as trending sideshow performances along the roads. With its diversity of subjects, ukiyo-e filled a role equivalent to that of today's mass media.