The Japan Ukiyo-e Museum Guide
Note: This site has gif images of many prints (not real high quality
images) I would use it as a reference for the key printmakers - then
surf on line for better images for PowerPoint presentations. I will be
adding a link to my Japan Web Resources.
Wood-block prints of everyday life of the past Japan
The average citizen's mood of Edo period (1603 - 1867)
was an extremely buoyant and joyful one --- not the transitory,
heavy atmosphere characteristic of the troubled middle
age. The word "ukiyo-e" means "the picture of buoyant
world" and incorporates in its meaning the common man's
daily pleasures, such as Kabuki plays, Geisha houses,
and so on. The forerunner of Edo period prints were simple
drawings that gradually developed into a wood-block, thus
satisfying the growth of the demand.
(this is copied from the site)