In Edo Period Japan (1615-1868), the “floating world” was a phrase that referred to both the pleasure quarters in major cities and a pleasure-seeking way of life. The most famous of these pleasure quarters was the Yoshiwara—a walled and moated district in Edo (present-day Tokyo) where one could abandon the rigors of daily life in pursuit of sensual delights.
Like Las Vegas today, the Yoshiwara was a destination that traded in sex, excess and fantasy, and its reputation as such—spread by the stories and artworks it inspired—was critical to its economic success and hold on the popular imagination.
Enter this complex world through more than 60 works of art, including paintings, woodblock prints and kimonos, and featuring a spectacular 58-foot painted scroll by Hishikawa Moronobu (d. 1694). Purposefully excluding the harsh realities of the sex trade, floating world artists created an idealized realm of high style and exquisite beauty. Produced by some of the most talented artists of their time, these artworks afforded vicarious pleasure to the many who could not access the Yoshiwara directly, while luring others to spend more freely. Seduction
offers you the opportunity to explore the intersection of art and desire, and to consider how fantasy can attract and obscure. See our trailer