Japanese ukiyo-e painters from the Edo period (1603-1868) are now famous throughout the world for their exquisite woodblock prints depicting everyday Japanese life and the natural world. Such master painters are less well-known, however, for their humorous contributions to the art world, which often feature whimsical scenes of anthropomorphic animals. Fortunately for us, though, these types of pictures are experiencing a recent wave of popularity among Japanese Internet users, and these images are simply too cute for us to just pass up. We’ve got fish, cats, puppies, monkeys, and a few more surprises from the masters in store for you after the jump!

Let’s begin with some fish, aquatic critters, and our favorite animals in the world — cats!

All of the prints above can be attributed to Kuniyoshi Utagawa (1797-1861), an ukiyo-e master who lived in the waning years of the Edo Period. A lover of cats, he always had several, and sometimes over a dozen, roaming about. He even had a Buddhist altar dedicated to cats and kept a cat death register at his house. Here’s his take on his contemporary Hiroshige’s famous The Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido, imagined as if all of the stations were cats!

Now, on to the puppies!

Okyo Maruyama (1733-1795), known for his blend of Western realism and Eastern aesthetics, was also apparently really good at painting adorable, melt-your-heart puppies:

▼ A bonus–were tigers always that round…?

Here’s what happened when Maruyama’s pupil, Rosetsu Nagasawa (1754-1799), tried painting a cute puppy:

We’ve featured Nagasawa’s work before, and he can certainly hold his own in a painting contest. Here’s one more to round it off:

Also, remember this painting of a gibbon reaching for the moon’s reflection? We can thank Jakuchu Ito (1716-1800) for that irresistible classic and the following humorous pictures.

This little guy might be our favorite one of them all:

Finally, Gibon Sengai (1750-1837), a monk of the Rinzai school, has a distinctive wispy style in his sumi-e ink paintings:

Be sure to let your friends know that the Japanese concept of “kawaii” has been around for quite some time–a couple hundred of years, in fact!

Source: Naver Matome
Featured image: Twitter/@ogurimako