Between the years 1550-1650 Japan went through an exciting period of social, economic, and cultural change. The old political order was overthrown when Hideyoshi unified the country, and the impact of European commerce and culture brought new ideas and wealth flooding into Japan. In the quickening of Japanese life commoners' played the major part. The despised merchants and artisans, barred from rising in society or taking part in government, spent their new-found affluence in cultural and artistic pursuits. Their widespread patronage and the new sense of freedom and joie de vivre gripping the land electrified painting. The dreaming black and white landscapes of Chinese influence gave way to richly colored scenes of everyday Japanese life. On screens, sitting doors and scrolls were depicted all the vibrant life of the times. Kondo magnificent book (the first full treatment of the subject) is an eye-opener on this neglected period of Japanese genre art. The text is short and concise, but the notes on the wonderful plates are crammed with information on the scenes depicted, the artists, and the development of the art.