Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾北斎 (1760–1849)
Untamed Lion
From the series Picture Book: Patterns of Couples (Ehon tsui no hinagata)
Japan, Edo period (1615–1868), c. 1812
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
Purchase, Richard Lane Collection, 2003

Costuming and its usage in role-play are paramount in the sexual culture of contemporary Japan. The Japanese term used nowadays to describe such outfits—kosupure—is a contraction of the English phrase “costume play” and, since its coinage in the late 20th century, has re-entered the English lexicon as the portmanteau cosplay.

A fashion trend similar to cosplay also was popular in Japan during the Edo period (1615–1868). The most apparent example of costuming seen in shunga is classical period dress, particularly the outfits worn by court nobles during the Heian period (794–1185). In this print by Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), performers in a lion dance (shishi-mai ), including a man dressed as the creature itself, take a break from the festivities and carouse while the man is still in costume.

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