Keisai Eisen 渓斎英泉 (1790–1848)
Wakashū and Geisha
From the series Grass on the Way of Love (Koi no michikusa)
Japan, Edo period (1615–1868), c. 1825
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
Purchase, Richard Lane Collection, 2003

While images of nanshoku (male love) diminished in the 19th century, wakashū continued to be represented as sexually irresistible. Like the odoriko (literally, “dancing girl”) prostitutes who preceded them, geisha, who developed fame in the late 18th century for their musical and sexual abilities, adopted the fashion of wakashū and shaved the crowns of their heads. Here Keisai Eisen (1790–1848) depicts an amorous encounter between a wakashū and a geisha.

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