Utagawa Kunisada 歌川国貞 / Toyokuni III 三代歌川豊国 (1786–1865)
From the series Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō with Beauties
Japan, Edo period (1615–1868), 1848
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
Gift of Dr. & Mrs. C. M. Cooke, 1935
Women were not the only gender group employed in prostitution along the Tōkaidō. In this depiction of Fukuroi, the twenty-seventh station on the highway, although an elegantly dressed female traveller, walking staff in hand, stands in the foreground as usual, she turns to glance at the naked buttocks of a man behind her who, in his preparations to make tea, leans over to stoke the fire.
The print by Hiroshige upon which this parody is based is often referred to as Outdoor Tea Stall at Fukuroi (Fukuroi dechaya no zu), and since roadside teahouses were a popular front for prostitution during the Edo period (1615–1868), we might wonder if this particular tea stall is a kagema-chaya, in which adult male (yarō) customers received both tea and sexual services from younger wakashū employees. In fact, in a discussion of Fukuroi within the text Sleeping along the Fifty-three Stations (Tabimakura gojūsan-tsugi, c. 1848–1854), on display nearby, Koikawa Shōzan (1821–1907) depicts a yarō and wakashū engaged in nanshoku (male love).
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