Themes: The Moon Through the Eras

    by: Chris Koller

    The moon has been a significant character throughout Japanese history dating back to as early as the Asuka period when Buddhist inspired art began to feature the sun and moon together as a popular theme. As zen Buddhism grew in popularity throughout the Kamakura era, moon-viewing became a popular activity. The moon played a key role in the arrangement of the monthly calendar all the way through the Edo period and it was common for citizens to celebrate the moon by hosting moon viewing parties also known as Tsukimi. The moon not only represented a strong harvest, but also provided a form of enlightenment, solitude and appreciation of beauty. As the popularity of ukiyo-e grew during the Edo period, the artistic interpretation of the moon became easily accessible to regular citizens as this artwork was mass produced, and even extended it's influence into Western artists including Van Gogh and Monet.

    Below I have included selections of Japanese art featuring the moon from the Ukiyo-e, Shin Hanga and Sosaku Hanga movements.


    Moon Viewing Party by Kitagawa Utamaro

    Autumn Moon Over Miho by Utagawa Kunisada

    Moon Above the Sea of Daimotsu Bay by Yoshitoshi

    Moon Scene Triptych by Hiroshige

    The Moon on Musashi Plain by Yoshitoshi

    Shin Hanga

    Full Moon Over Magome by Kawase Hasui

    Hirakawa Bridge by Hiroshi Yoshida

    Misty Moon at Miyajima by Ito Yuhan

    Moon at Ishiyama Lake Biwa by Takahashi Shotei

    Moon at Nakanoshima Sapporo by Kawase Hasui

    Praying Mantis and the Moon by Ohara Koson

    Summer Moon at Miyajima by Tsuchiya Koitsu

    Sosaku Hanga

    Evening by Toshi Yoshida

    Moon and Tree by Joichi Hoshi

    New Moon and Sea by Reika Iwami


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