Japanese Art in the Edo Period

"Japanese people in the Edo period cherished traditional art forms while at the same time embracing newer art forms. Japanese Art in the Edo Period introduces students to a variety of schools of painting that flourished in the relatively peaceful society that existed during the Edo period." (text taken from SPICE)
Published 2005 (89 pages) For Middle School - Secondary students. Softcover - $39.95 includes CD-ROM with 40 images
Year of Publication
Number of Pages
Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE)
Citation Key
Curriculum Unit
Average: 3 (6 votes)


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Japanese Art in the Edo Period: curriculum unit review

Field of Interest/Specialty: English
Posted On: 01/12/2020

Theresa Doerfler
9th-12th grade English teacher
Oakland Catholic High School
Review of curriculum unit: Japanese Art in the Edo Period
This curriculum unit is appropriate for secondary students from 9th through 12th grade and could be adapted for social studies, English, or art classes. It includes teacher information sheets for background and lectures, CDs with art images to display for a class, extensive handouts, samples, and assessments. It includes many optional activities, for teachers who have time and resources for activities such as linoleum block printing.
The lessons included in the curriculum unit are: “An Introduction to the Edo Period,” “Travel and Art in the Edo Period,” The Development of ‘Official’ and ‘Unofficial’ Art in the Edo Period,” “Literati and Collaborative Art in the Edo Period,” and “Chinese and Western Influence on Edo Art.” The lessons seem fairly flexible and adaptable. I think a teacher could pick out one or two lessons or could dive in deeply and follow the whole unit plan. The activities are quite varied, so teachers could find the ones that best suit their own classroom needs or style.
The lessons in the “Literati and Collaborative Art in the Edo Period” could work well for a Language Arts classroom, as students could consider the way that amateur artists combined paintings of nature and landscapes with a literary fixation. Because many of the pieces included calligraphy or poetry to embellish the paintings, the art has a distinct literary element. The artists sometimes collaborated on pieces, and it would be fun to have students work on collaborative pieces, as suggested in the lesson plan. The plan lays out good ideas for having groups of students decide on a topic and then determine a contribution (either art or writing) from each student. I think my own students would respond well to the chance to express themselves in different ways.
I could also imagine including a lesson on literati art in a unit on ekphrastic poetry. It would be interesting to juxtapose some of the literati art with Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn” or Browning’s “My Last Duchess”—or even “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus,” along with the poem “Musée des Beaux Arts.”

Sharon Isherwood, French teacher, grade 8, Shaler Area Middle School, Glenshaw, PA

Field of Interest/Specialty: French
Posted On: 12/17/2019

Sharon Isherwood - Curriculum Unit Review: Japanese Art in the Edo Period, Spice, 2005
This is a comprehensive curriculum unit that focuses on Japanese art in the context of Japanese society and history from the early 17th century through mid-19th century. The unit is divided into five distinct lessons, all of which require one class period of approximately 50 minutes to complete with the exception of one lesson for which two class periods are necessary. There are also optional activities that could extend the unit to beyond the general one-week time frame. Topics explored include the social hierarchy of the time, the importance of travel to the creation and spread of art, the role of religion in art, types of art from "official" vs. "unofficial" to literati and collaborative, and Chinese and Western influences on Edo-period art. Each lesson is very clearly designed, organized, and easy to read and follow. Contained in each lesson are objectives, a brief introduction of the content, a list of materials, and detailed procedures, activities, and assessments. The background information for each lesson is well written and helpful in understanding the historical framework of Edo-period art. The materials consist of both written handouts and visuals. Although the readings and definitions are useful, the references to overhead transparencies and CD-Rom slides are evidence of the age of this unit. 2005 is the copyright date of the publication, and it does not appear that an updated version is available. That said, the unit is still very relevant. It is appropriate for secondary students, especially advanced middle and high school students. Adaptations would be necessary for more advanced high school classes. Teachers of art, art history, social studies/world history, Asian studies, language arts, and world language will benefit from the unit's content. As a French teacher, I think this unit could provide valuable insight and ideas for a one or two-day lesson linking French and Japanese art.

Japanese Art of the Edo Period

Field of Interest/Specialty: Art
Posted On: 12/05/2017

My name is Julie Yankovich. I teach art to grades seven through twelve at Geibel Catholic Junior-Senior High School in Connellsville, Pa. I chose to review Japanese Art in the Edo Period from the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education.
This Japanese curriculum would be used for the middle school or the high school level. After reviewing these lessons, my suggestion would be for these to be used in a ninth grade class, as the material might be too much for seventh and eighth grade classes to handle, as well as being too easy to be a high school course. The recommended disciplines would be Social Studies, World History, Asian Studies or an Art History class. Each lesson would be for a 50-minute class, except for one lesson that would be for two 50-minute class sessions. There are five lessons that include main idea questions, objectives, materials, equipment, teacher preparation, standards and information on a CD-ROM. I am teaching art classes and have added my suggestions below.
Lesson One is an introduction to the Edo Period. One of the homework assignments would be for students to create a crossword puzzle and an answer sheet including the important figures and vocabulary. Students would swap the crossword puzzles and quiz each other. There would be a class discussion about the social classes. There is also a suggested game called “Around the World” which could get students more engaged in the material.
Lesson Two is about travel and art during the Edo Period. There are three optional activities with this lesson . I liked one idea, which was creating a travel book of haiku and creating a scroll illustrating highways in Japan. While working on these assignments, I would extend this unit for several more days. I would also make my own teacher examples to share with the students before beginning the unit.
Lesson Three is about the development of “official” and “unofficial” art in the Edo Period. Students would be given handouts in the previous class. Students will create a quiz based on these handouts for homework. During class, the students would discuss the official and unofficial art pieces using printed examples. An optional lesson creating linoleum block prints is of particular interest to my classes. Some extra class periods may be required to create these cutouts and prints.
Lesson Four is about literati and collaborative art in the Edo Period. Students would be given handouts in the previous class and are asked to answer questions for homework. They discuss these answers at the beginning of the next class. The students are then divided up to create a collaborative art piece. Some subjects for this collaborative art piece are music, hobbies, sports, values, famous people, scenic place and quotations. I think that this project may require more than two 50-minute classes to complete.
Lesson Five is about Chinese and Western influence on Edo Art. Students would be given a particular topic to research before the next class. Students will use one artist’s image and describe color, perspective, subject and the artist’s technique. I would want to add another assignment to this lesson. Students can choose another Edo image and create a modern image based on this.

Japanese Art in the Edo Period

Field of Interest/Specialty: Art & Social Studies
Posted On: 08/11/2015

Angie Stokes - Art Teacher
Wayne Trace Jr./Sr. High School
Japanese Art in the Edo Period
Known as a time of renaissance, the relative peace and prosperity of the Edo Period in Japan led to the development and refinement of many arts. As a sign of social status, samurai and merchants as well as those of wealthier backgrounds helped to finance the trade and growth of fine art throughout Japan while simpler items such as fans and postcards became forms of art in their own right. This SPICE unit examines the roles of many of these pieces and players, from religious pilgrim to peasant farmer, and their impact on the development of the arts.
Through five separate lessons, art skills such as visual identification, comparisons, classification, analysis, and collaboration are developed along with geography and reading skills. While the homework ideas are pretty lame, the handouts on history and major events of the time are quite helpful in developing an understanding of the context in which the art is being produced. Much of the instruction in this unit, as presented, is written at the middle school level to be done by students independently, yet a nice compilation of images in a variety of mediums is presented for class discussion. Finally, a number of related hands-on art and cross-curricular projects are presented as well as activities that extend into Language Arts or Technology courses.

Connect Edo History with Japanese Art

Field of Interest/Specialty: AP World History & World Religions
Posted On: 04/16/2012

This SPICE curriculum unit provides an excellent connection between history of the Edo period and art of the period. It is appropriate for high school students or advanced middle school students. I have used portions of the unit in high school courses, such as, World Cultures, World Religions, and AP World History classes. The print materials, student handouts, & supplementary resources (CD with art images), are well designed and can be easily adapted and incorporated into existing lessons.
The curriculum guide contains national history standards and objectives. The student readings are well structured and include definitions of key vocabulary in the margin, which is helpful, especially for students with learning difficulties. My lower-level students worked in groups to discuss the images, before analyzing the art individually. Advanced students enjoy discussing various aspects of culture portrayed in the art. The assessments provided require students to apply their knowledge and skills learned through analyzing the art. Due to time constraints, I tend to use lessons 1 & 2.

Review of Japanese Art in the Edo Period

Field of Interest/Specialty:
Posted On: 05/30/2010

Japanese Art in the Edo Period is published by the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE). This unit focuses on the art that flourished during Japan’s Edo Period, a time of relative peace and stability within the country. The unit provides both written (various handouts) and visual components (overhead transparencies and CD-ROM slides) to incorporate into each lesson.
The unit is divided into five separate lessons: An Introduction to the Edo Period; Travel and Art in the Edo Period; The Development of “Official” and “Unofficial” Art in the Edo Period; Literati and Collaborative Art in the Edo Period; and Chinese and Western Influence on Edo Art, each of which are designed to be completed in a fifty minute class period. . Each lesson comes with a variety of handouts, teacher information sheets, games, primary source images (pictures of paintings or woodblock prints), optional enrichment activities and assessments for each lesson. The unit also includes a page of suggested culminating projects that can be used as assessments rather than a unit ending exam.
This curriculum unit has many strengths that warrant its inclusion in a variety of classroom settings and subject areas. Each lesson is rather thorough and comes with activities that appeal to a variety of different learning styles. The organizing questions that are provided with each lesson would serve as a starting point for some warm up activities for students. The directions and objectives are very clear. Also, because of the way the lessons are divided it would be easy to use just one or two of them as supplementary material to enrich an existing curriculum unit in either English/Language Arts, Social Studies/History, or Art.
However, the unit has a few weaknesses that need to be addressed as well. First, it seems as though it would take more than fifty minutes to complete the unit as indicated in the directions, especially if a teacher decided to include some of the optional activities into his or her lesson plan. Also, there is a great deal of vocabulary contained in the handouts that students are expected to learn. While I think high school students would not have any trouble with the reading, I could see that it would be challenging for some middle school students to get through. Finally, it would be helpful for students to have a background in art before starting this unit because they are expected to know and be able to identify terms such as distance and perspective and how they are used in a variety of images from the Edo period.
I think that this unit would be best used in 8th or 9th grade classroom. The unit’s directions say that it is appropriate for both middle and high school classrooms. However, I think that some of the reading would be a bit overwhelming for students in 6th or 7th grade. On the other hand, I do not see students after 9th grade being challenged by an assignment that requires them to make a crossword puzzle out of vocabulary words.