These values of suggestion, irregularity, simplicity and perishability, as Donald Keene identified them.
Suggestion or yugen is the characteristic wherein the artist suggests a hint of nature. There is no idealization of the subject but connotes a suggestion of what it is in relation to what it truly is. The artwork gives an indication of reality and does not capture the subject in its real form.
Zen Buddhism influence is reflected in Japanese aesthetics through austerity and simplicity in presentation. Perishability captures the very essence of life and nature, showing the impermanence and sadness that pervades its reality. All these elements are brought to together to constitute the Japanese measure of aesthetics in all its art forms, from painting, literature, architecture, pottery, to wood block prints. Even the tea ceremony as a Buddhist ritual is influenced by the tenets of these aesthetic building blocks which form Japanese culture.
Edo culture had a great influence in the development and adoption of these aesthetic cornerstones. ...
Ukiyo-e gained popularity as an affordable means of acquiring art, especially among the middle class population of Edo. The Ukiyo-e style was described as a "floating world" because it describes the instability of common people's lives. It often portrayed ordinary people, actors, courtesans, vendors, and the like.
A woodblock print by Kuryosai Isoda depict a "kamuro" or courtesan in the middle of two other Japanes women. Also called "bijin prints", ukiyo-e describes the subjects as beautiful women or courtesans . This art work "hints" at the true profession of the kamuro which in reality can more accurately be described as a prostitute.
Irregularity in this artwork is depicted by the disproportionately smaller size of the kamuro compared to the two other women in the print. Simplicity is depicted through the use of clear continuous lines outlining the figures standing on a monochrome bare background adorned by Japanese characters.
Perishability is also psychologically suggested with the nature of the kamuro's profession which connotes the hardship and sadness in her life despite the faade of physical beauty. It also shows the distinction between the kamuro's social status in relation to respectable women in society based on the irregularity between their sizes.
Thus, the wood block print used in this example shows the suggestiveness of the art work, not explicitly stating the true nature of the subject, especially her profession. However, there was no attempt to deny the true character of the subject. Life's circumstance in relation to the subject was relayed or told, and the irregularity of the print showed the unequal status between the subject and the other