Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pasttime* (for Pastime*)

Perhaps one of the most popular pastimes during the cold dark days of winter is dreaming about the nice warm weather to come. According to Alfred Lord Tennyson: "In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love." T. S. Eliot tells us that spring is a time for "mixing memory and desire." But for certain young men it's more a matter of mixing business with pleasure. The picture shown here "depicts nanshoku-type relationships between samurai and their boyfriends. Young kabuki actors who played female roles were known as onnagata or kagema and doubled as sex workers. They were much debated and sought after by the sophisticates of the day." Of course, this sort of thing is long in the past, but it still looks like a wild time. Kabuki was originally a female occupation in the early part of the 17th century, but quickly became a strictly masculine endeavor. Currently, both the art of kabuki and the love that dared not speak its name are finding favor in modern-day Japan. We found 14 cases of today's typo in OhioLINK (two of which were for the properly rendered PastTimes Press), and 176 in WorldCat.

(Spring Pastimes, Miyagawa Isshô, Shunga hand scroll, ca. 1750, sumi, color and gofun on silk, from a private collection, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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