Edo’s prints and printed books reveal an endless procession of the elegantly chic. Fashion was formulated as much on paper as in the bustling shops and city streets. Many Edo icons were drawn from the Yoshiwara, the city’s licensed brothel district. First opening in 1618, this floating world space welcomed clients according to the weight of their purse rather than their rank in society. The women staffing its sex trade, meanwhile, were typically sold into service by their families to work under contracts of indenture. In promoting the Yoshiwara, print helped clothe its realities in glamour.
Party in the Yoshiwara
From Twelve bouts of lovemaking
Japan, c. 1777
CBL J 2405