The Beauty of the Moment

Women in Japanese Woodblock Prints

A stunning and generously illustrated volume, featuring one hundred of the best pieces from the Honolulu Museum of Art's collection of Japanese Woodblock prints.



Title Information

Edited by Katharina Epprecht. With essays by Shawn Eichman, Katharina Epprecht, Marie Kakinuma, Andreas Marks, and John D. Szostak

1st edition

, 2012

Text English and German


182 pages, 155 color illustrations

23 x 30 cm

ISBN 978-3-85881-357-2

In cooperation with Museum Rietberg, Zürich


At the beginning of the nineteenth century during the golden age of Japanese colored woodblock printing, an ordinary print filled the same purpose as commercial graphic art does today. Partially because of European art lovers’ growing enthusiasm for these subtle, refined compositions, many artists who specialized in these prints gained recognition and fame that spanned multiple continents. The worldwide fascination with ukiyo-e, or “images of the floating world,” continues through to the present day, and its formal restraint and graphic elegance never fail to inspire desires and artists.

Key to this artistic genre is the ability to capture strikingly beautiful and ephemeral moments, and bijin-ga, or “images of beautiful women,” are a specific subcategory of this medium, paying tribute to women by depicting a moment of irretrievable magic. The Beauty of the Moment presents over one hundred images of women by the best-known masters of Japanese woodblock printing, showing both the graceful, self-assured beauty of women in public and intimate portraits of domesticity. Particularly exquisite are several images using kirazuri, a technique employing powdered brass or mica dust on a light film of glue to imitate gold dust on the surface of each print. Many of the works in this volume are part of the famous collection of the late novelist James A. Michener and are held today by the Honolulu Museum of Art.

A stunning and generously illustrated volume, The Beauty of the Moment is published in conjunction with an exhibit at the Museum Rietberg in Zurich, and contains essays by some of the foremost scholars of Japanese art, including Shawn Eichman, Katharina Epprecht, Marie Kakinuma, Andreas Marks, and John Szostak.

Authors & Editors

Shawn Eichmann

Katharina Epprecht

, born 1961, studied art history and archaeology at the University of Zürich. She is curator of Japanese art at Museum Rietberg Zürich since 1998 and the museum's deputy director since 2009.

Marie Kakinuma

Andreas Marks

John D. Szostak