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“Yoshida at Tōkaidō” by Katsushika Hokusai. Part of the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series. Travelers resting at the station watch is a Shinkansen goes by. They, of course, continue their journey on foot.

Ukiyo-e, or “pictures of floating worlds” were woodblock prints that became wildly popular in 17th -19th century Japan. Emerging as a spontaneous artistic development, they remain, to this day, as some of the most well-known imagery and, by extension, some of the most readily available glimpses into what life was like in Japan.

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“A sketch of the Mitsui shop in Suruga in Edo” by Katsushika Hokusai. The location is today’s Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi.

But this was before the age of computers, or even hand-drawn animation, so of course each represents a moment, frozen in time. But thawing those images and bringing them to life, sometimes realistically and other times surrealistically, is a Japanese animator who goes by the name Segawa 37.

Working with original images of Ukiyo-e,the animator has carefully computerized certain parts, putting them in motion. Some are done humorously, like the travelers watching a modern-day Shinkansen go by. But others are quite sincere. A total of 8 different Ukiyo-e GIFs were created for the purpose of entering into a GIF contest sponsored by Adobe.

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Above, “Night Scene in the Yoshiwara” by Katsushika Oei is brought to life. Her interplay of light and shadow, a distinct style rare in woodblock prints, is subtly animated.

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A light show over the Sumida River in”Firework Show at Ryogoku” by Kiyochika Kobayashi.

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the strong gust of wind can be see in Katsushika Hokusai’s “Ejiri in Suruga Province.” Part of Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.