Kelen Quintana

Kelen Quintana

Hedonism, Prostitutes, and Gods at the Floating, Hidden World (Kakurezato) of Yoshiwara

Authors

Kelen Quintana

Mentor

Dr. Timothy Karis

College

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Abstract

This research paper is focused on exploring the complex history and societal implications depicted within an early Japanese 19th century art handscroll, titled “Three Gods of Fortune Visit the Yoshiwara; or “Scenes of Pleasure at the Height of Spring” The objective of this research is to analyze a historical artifact in order to draw a greater analysis and understanding of Japanese history, folklore, gender relations, and traditions, with a particular focus on the depiction of deities with prostitutes. The painting depicts patrons traveling to the Yoshiwara red-light pleasure district of Edo, in modern day Japan, with an added twist—these patrons are three of the seven Japanese Gods of Good Fortune: Ebisu, Daikoku, and Fukurokuju. At conclusion of this research, I found that the depiction of these Gods with these women did not signify or change anything in particular about the societal status of women and prostitutes, rather it provided space for men, who are made in the image of God, to engage in these hedonistic activities since their Gods were participating in them. A persistent theme in Japanese history is the struggle for balancing the traditional with the contemporary, the collective values of honor/order in balance with individuality and pleasure, and how this conflict has been depicted in paintings, literature, and Japanese media to this day, long after the fall of the Yoshiwara district in the 20th century.

Poster

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Research Pitch

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