Ukiyo (浮世 "Floating World") describes the urban lifestyle, especially the pleasure-seeking aspects, of Edo-period Japan (1600–1867). The Floating World culture developed in Yoshiwara, the licensed red-light district of Edo (modern Tokyo), which was the site of many brothels, chashitsu, and kabuki theaters frequented by Japan's growing middle class. A prominent author of the ukiyo genre was Ihara Saikaku, who wrote The Life of an Amorous Woman. The ukiyo culture also arose in other cities such as Osaka and Kyoto.
The famous Japanese woodblock prints known as ukiyo-e, or "pictures of the Floating World", had their origins in these districts and often depicted scenes of the Floating World itself such as geisha, kabuki actors, sumo wrestlers, samurai, chōnin and prostitutes.
- The Compact Nelson, Japanese-English Character Dictionary, Charles E. Tuttle Company, Tokyo 1999, ISBN 4-8053-0574-6