While the ukiyo-e woodblock prints depicting beautiful young Japanese women of the Edo Period (1603-1867) are world-renowned, an equally worthy genre and common theme tends to get overlooked: that of handsome men. The imaginative exhibition "Handsome Boys and Good-looking Men of Edo," currently on show at the Ukiyo-e Ota Memorial Museum of Art, brings to light the celebration of the male figure by great Edo Period woodblock print artists.
The exhibition reveals an urban popular culture that flourished with a focus on form and beauty. The Edoite's attention to beauty extended to handsome, rakish young men in the street as well as to famous kabuki actors, the celebrities of the time who were worshipped by the public for their amazing transformations into beautiful young women in kabuki performances.
Dashing male figures, along with their female counterparts, captured the styles of the time. The keen eyes of artists were drawn to men from many walks of life, including page boys, fire fighters and palanquin bearers.