Yotsumeya: Ancient Tokyo’s Sex Shop

The Japanese have always been kinky.

You may know that there are ancient Japanese dildos, historical erotic prints, fart war scrolls, and even bamboo sex dolls from long ago.

historical japanese shunga erotic sex print geisha samurai

But did you know there was also a sex shop in old Tokyo? Yotsumeya was in the Ryogoku area of Edo (the old name for Tokyo), a bustling center and not too far from the famous red light district, Yoshiwara. It first opened in 1626, making it the oldest adult goods shop in Japan, though sadly it closed in the Meiji period (late nineteenth century) when Japan was trying to “modernize” (and did such foolish things as make prostitution illegal).

Sadly, no real visual record of Yotsumeya and its amazing wares exists, though its name survives in Rakugo performances even today.

historical japanese shunga erotic sex print geisha samurai

Many of the things sold at Yotsumeya were pretty expensive, including the Azumagata Ningyou sex doll (we’ll blog about that another day!), meaning that the ordinary citizens of the city made do with home-made remedies. One such was to grow a cucumber (kyuri) until it was much bigger than normal, carve out a hole and then get plugging with your cock!

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