Okumura Masanobu 奥村政信 (1686-1764)
Lovers in Osaka Undressing
From the series Love in Three Capitals
Japan, Edo period (1615-1868), 1720s
Woodblock print; ink on paper with hand-coloring
Gift of James A. Michener, 1991
Here, a courtesan in Shinmachi (the seal in the upper left designates this location as Osaka) sits upon the lap of her client, a Kabuki actor. The plum branches arranged in the tokonoma alcove indicate the season to be late winter. The couple has dispensed with their wine cups and has begun to undress. The client’s haori jacket and tabi socks lay near the tokonoma, and the courtesan has slid one of her arms out of her outer kimono. With her free hand, however, she pulls the collar of her under-kimono up around her neck, and the client has retracted his left hand deep into the sleeve of his own kimono.
The frigid wind blowing off of Osaka Bay made romance in the Shinmachi district challenging in the winter months, but as attested by the expression “cold winter, warm hearts” (samui fuyu ni atatakai kokoro), lovers typically rose to the challenge.
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