Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858)
Dawn Inside the Yoshiwara
From the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo
Japan, Edo period (1615–1868), 1857
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
Gift of James A. Michener, 1991

After its construction in 1617, the Yoshiwara district quickly became a nexus of Edo’s artistic and literary community. Through their appearance in woodblock prints, the women who lived there became paragons of fashion. However, the Yoshiwara was known primarily as a government-sanctioned brothel district, and its distinguished reputation despite this fact offers insight into the general public’s open-minded attitude towards the commercial sex industry from the 17th through the 19th centuries. Here, Hiroshige shows male visitors leaving the district’s main gate after a night of revelry.

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