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Japanese woodblock prints of the Edo period (1615-1868) were the products of a highly commercialised and competitive publishing industry. Their content was inspired by the popular culture that flourished in Edo (Tokyo). Publishers and artists displayed tremendous ingenuity in finding ways to sustain demand for prints and to to circumvent the restrictions placed upon them by government censorship. Japanese woodblock prints have been appreciated in the West for their graphic qualities. Publications by scholars in Japan, Europe and the United States have made possible a more subtle appreciation of the imagery encountered in them. This book explains how those who first purchased these prints would have read them. Through stunning new photography of both well-known and rarely published works in the collection of the British Museum, the author explores how and why such prints were made, providing an introduction to this art form.