At first I thought this was some kind of wacky winter kimono from prehistoric, pre-Patagonia days, but no: it’s actually a futon built for two! This fancy sleeping bag was actually used by courtesans when they entertained their customers in Yoshiwara!
Back in the day, plenty of men wealthy enough to buy opulent mummy bags for their paramours frequented the pleasure quarters, even though it was illegal for a samurai to pass the gates. Naturally, this didn’t stop anyone, they just wore special hats designed to cover their faces so they wouldn’t be recognized. The old joke goes that if there was a fire at the bathhouse, the customers would run outside hiding their faces, not their dangly bits!
And if you think visiting a host club is expensive, think again: a night of eating, drinking and making merry with the Yoshiwara beauty of your dreams could set you back over $10,000 in today’s coin!
I actually saw this awesome exhibit at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco – it’s called Seduction, and is on through May 10, 2015. The bottom woodblock print photo thanks to http://ukiyo-e.org/. Both prints are by Hishikawa Moronobu.
Read a novel set in Tokyo
Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!