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Life in Edo

11.05.2010 to 08.08.2010

The decision by Tokugawa Ieyasu to move the military government's seat of power to Edo (today: Tokyo), led, from the 17th century onwards, to the former fishing village experiencing a massive economic boom and a huge influx of people. Within the course of a few decades, the town had transformed into a prosperous metropolis, where, blessed by internal peace and increasing wealth, an anaesthetisation of everyday experience could be traced in every facet of urban life.

Besides the mounting consumption of a diverse range of luxury goods, life in the city was predominantly characterized by its many seasonal festivities and popular pastimes. Against this backdrop, the simple coloured woodcut print, inexpensively produced from cheap materials, rapidly became the most important medium of the new, urban age. Countless depictions of multifarious life in Edo not only served to confirm the status of the city as a hot spot among all the Japanese cities for every kind of diversion, but they also became an inexhaustible source of information, documenting the development of urban culture and history.