What is Ukiyoe?

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Date & Time: Sunday, May 29, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Place: Online meeting at home
Participants: 20 JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) Tokyo/Yokohama visitors (five from China, four each from Vietnam and Pakistan, one each from Laos, Benin, Egypt, USA, India, Zambia, and Bangladesh), 2 JICA Tokyo employees and 13 KSGG members
Lecturers: Fusako, Keiko, and Kajumi
Languages: English and simple Japanese

Report by Fusako

First of all, I introduced what is KSGG and what kind of activities the lecturers are engaged in using Power Point. I immediately received response regarding Japanese language support, farm visit experience, and furoshiki wrapping. Then Keiko made a mini lecture about Ukiyoe, which is the theme of this meeting. In a short time, she explained efficiently the diverse area from the meaning of Ukiyoe to its influence on European paintings. Her lecture was very well received. Most of Ukiyoe works were made of wood block prints in the Edo period, which lasted from 1603 to1867. Commoners in the Edo period were able to buy Ukiyoe works at low price because they were mass-produced and not regarded as the artistic prints. Many participants thought Ukiyoe must to be expensive as they are great art. They seemed to be surprised with her explanation.
After that, Kajumi asked the participants some questions such as “where do you want to go in Japan?” or “what kind of food do you like?” and so on. Their answers were taken as topics in the next chat session.
At the end of the first session, all 38 participants were divided into three groups using a breakout function of Zoom and they enjoyed the chat session.
It was impressive that all of them in my group wanted to go to Hokkaido, not Kyoto, because most of them wanted to see snow for they are stranger to it. It felt fresh that some of them wanted to experience agriculture work. Their favorite Japanese food was not sushi or tempura but ramen this time again. Ramen built up an unshakable position. As we had a lot of participants, the member of each chat group became more than 10, making it to many for free discussion.
I have some lessons learned. For example, in spite of a lot of participants, 15 minutes were too short for a chat meeting. I appreciate a lot of comments from the participants, such as “While the COVID-19 still lingers, I enjoyed chatting with a lot of people via Zoom safely.”