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'A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints' to Debut at Japan Society in NYC

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No previous American art show has explored gender and sexual expression during Japan's Edo period in such detail.

Suzuki Harunobu's Two Couples in a Teahouse, 1769-70. Courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum, Sir Edmund Walker Collection. 926.18.280.

In March, "A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints" will debut at the Japan Society in New York City. The exhibition will be the first of its kind in the U.S. and will investigate the "wakashu" ("beautiful youths") who were considered a third, unique gender during the Edo period (approximately 1603 to 1868).

No previous American art show has explored gender and sexual expression of Edo in such detail. In addition to examining the "Wakashu," who are subjects of admiration and fantasy for both men and women, the exhibit also delves into the "nanshoku," the young male sexual partners of older men during the Edo period. 

Yukie Kamiya, gallery director of the Japan Society, said in a statement: “We could not be more excited to bring this imminently relevant exhibition to New York City. With our long history of presenting traditional and contemporary Japanese art, we look forward to exploring Japan’s Early Modern era, which is often characterized as a moment of isolation, from an unexpected vantage point—namely, how the richness of lived experience in the Edo period can serve as a touchstone for issues that resonate within contemporary society.”

"A Third Gender" originated in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and is comprised largely of work from the private collection of Sir Edmund Walker. Click here for more information. 

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