An image of Bon Festival moon


(Japan 1839 – 1892)

Bon Festival moon, from the series One hundred aspects of the moon

Not on display
Further information

Bon is a Buddhist summer festival held every year when the moon is full during the seventh lunar month. It is to honour the spirits of dead ancestors who are visiting descendants in the living world. Also known as the Latern Festivals laterns are used to guide spirits to and from where they came. In country areas there is a dance called 'bon odori' which is performed, where men and women dance in a line or circle clapping and singing. They wear light cotton 'yukata' and dance with a fan and the boys wear geometrical patterns with hair tied in queues.

Yoshitoshi’s career straddled two eras – the last years of the Edo period and the first few decades of modern Japan following the Meiji Restoration in 1867. Initially enthusiastic and opened to Western influxes, he became increasingly sceptical about the loss of numerous aspects of traditional Japanese art and culture due to rapid industrialisation and Westernisation. In a time when modern reproductive technologies such as photography and lithography were introduced to Japan and enjoyed high popularity, Yoshitoshi concentrated his efforts in introducing new themes and techniques to the stagnant art of ukiyo-e colour woodblock prints, taking it thus to a new height, before it definitely declined after his death. His highly imaginative, often flamboyant and even disturbing depictions of historical events, warriors, beautiful women and the supernatural has led him to be recognised as the last great master of traditional Japanese woodblock print.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, August 2012.

Place of origin
Japan: Meiji period 1868–1912
06 Jan 1887
colour woodblock; ôban
39.0 x 26.0 cm
Signature & date

Signed and dated.

Yasuko Myer Bequest Fund 2012
Accession number