Voyeurism in Erotic Books

Despite the predominance of sexuality as a topic in Edo culture, strict Confucian rules about social propriety made the mere act of perusing an erotic book a deeply shameful experience for some. The texts themselves often reassured self-conscious readers that intercourse was intended as a spectator sport and that its fictional characters welcomed the reader’s voyeurism. Couples in coitus were shown blissfully ignoring onlookers or nonchalantly chatting with leering neighbors. Some artists depicted absurdly shameless couples that caroused in the most public and inappropriate of settings: restaurants, theaters, and even graveyards.