Urban commoners in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Japan, known as the Floating World, enjoyed a hedonistic lifestyle that included the pleasure of the companionship of pet animals. Many woodblock prints of fashionable beauties show them accompanied by elegant, pampered pets that symbolize luxury and sensuality. Formerly a prerogative of the nobility, pets were now available to newly affluent commoners as well.

Cats and small dogs were especially favored as indoor pets, but monkeys, mice, fish, birds, and even singing insects were also cherished.  Meanwhile, on the streets and in the countryside, dogs were beloved pets of both children and adults. Traveling entertainers presented acts by trained monkeys in costumes, and artists sometimes drew humorous fantasy scenes of animals engaged in human activities.  

Not just for animal lovers, “Cats to Crickets” will also appeal to those interested in early modern Japanese popular culture and fine printmaking.