Japanese woodblock prints - ukiyo-e - can be translated as "pictures of the floating world". They are collaboration of 3 three people: artist, carver, and printer. Ukiyo-e appeared in the Edo Period (1600-1968) and the most popular subjects were kabuki actors and courtesans.
The term 'floating world' refers to something like a modern mode, the passing scene, the floating world of pleasure, to a generally hedonistic way of life, and was often used as a euphemism for the bars and houses of ill-repute which were so popular among artists and literary types in pre-war Japan.
Utamaro Kitagawa was a foremost ukiyo-e artist of the late 18th century. Utamaro concentrated his work mostly on portraying single women with idealized slim and tall bodies, long necks and small shoulders. His models were mostly from the streets and geishas from pleasure quarters in Edo (now Tokyo). He created a new image of a beautiful woman and became widely known.
In 1804 he was arrested for publishing a print of ruler Hideyoshi leaning toward a pageboy, caressing his wrist. It was not the shōgun's conduct but his representation, that earned Utamaro 50 days in manacles - pictures of high nobility were forbidden. Utamaro was imprisoned for 50 days wearing hand-cuffs. The humiliation followed by a deep depression had a disastrous impact on him and 2 years later he died at the age of 56. His student married Utamaro's widow and took his teacher's name, and continued producing prints in the style of his master.