News Story

Welcome to our Edo Pop exhibition glossary! Dive deeper into the captivating world of Edo, through our curated collection of words and phrases.

bijin-ga
A Japanese term meaning ‘pictures of beautiful people’

daimyō
A Japanese term referring to the feudal lords who held large quantities of wealth and land in Japan between 1185 and 1868.

Edo
The city we now call Tokyo, the capital of Japan.

Feudal system
A hierarchical system most prevalent in medieval Europe. A feudal society also existed in Japan between 1185 and 1868. The shogun had supreme authority as the military leader of Japan.

Geisha
Translating as ‘art person’, geisha were, and still are, skilled entertainers and artisans.

Kabuki
A boisterous, dramatic form of theatre. Kabuki storylines and stars became the focus of many woodblock print designers in Edo.

Meiji restoration
In 1868, the last of the Tokugawa shoguns lost his power. The Emperor was restored after many centuries of shogun rule. He chose his name, Meiji, meaning ‘enlightened rule’ and renamed Edo to Tokyo (Eastern capital), beginning a new era for Japan.

mon
A decorative emblem used to identify an individual or family, similar to a family crest.

Noh
A form of classical theatre involving music, dance and drama originating in 14th century Japan.

oiran
These women were the highest ranking amongst the sex workers of the pleasure quarters in Edo.

onnagata
Meaning ‘women’s manner’, onnagata are male actors that perform female roles in kabuki plays.

Retainer
High-status men, usually samurai, who held wealth, land and power in return for loyalty and services to the shogun and his daimyo lords.

shamisen
A stringed instrument similar to a lute or guitar, often performed by geisha.

Samurai
Below the shogun and daimyo, these warriors were the highest-ranking class of Japanese society prior to the Meiji restoration.

Shogun / shogunate
The title of the military leaders of Japan, a succession of whom ruled during most of the period between 1185 and 1868. The shogunate was their government, made up of loyal daimyo and samurai.

ukiyo-e
A Japanese term meaning ‘pictures of the floating world’.

Yoshiwara
The licensed brothel district in Edo. It contained exclusive brothels and tea houses and featured street performers among its many attractions.

You might also like

  1. Members Only
    Event

    Members talk: Silk Routes

  2. Article

    In conversation with Hiroko Imada

    21 June 2024
  3. Event

    Summer Family Days

  4. A traditional asian calligraphy brush with a pointed tip, resting on a wooden stand with japanese characters, alongside a red ink container and a black stone on a white background.
    Event

    Japanese calligraphy

  5. A Japanese woman with short dark hair looks towards the camera
    Event

    In conversation with Hiroko Imada

  6. Someone painting ceramics
    Event

    Ceramics: sushi set