Nishimura Shigenobu 西村重信 (active early 18th century)
A Modern Wakashū Prostitute
(Imayō Kagema Fū 今様陰間風)

From the series Modern Social Types (Imayō … Fū)

Japan, Edo period (1615-1868), 1716
Woodblock print; ink on paper with hand-coloring
Gift of James A. Michener, 1972

The sexualized public image of a wakashū is no more evident than in this portrait of a wakashū prostitute framed within a fan-shaped border, one of a series of prints by Shigenobu that discuss various social types in Edo society. Another work from this series, depicting a wakashū domestic servant and similarly hand-colored in lacquer, is currently in the collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. At the base of this print is the name and address of the publisher, Nishimuraya Denbei. Perhaps coincidentally, this publisher’s neighborhood was well-known as a center for wakashū prostitution.

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