A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints
March 10—June 11, 2017

A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints is the first exhibition in North America devoted to the portrayal of wakashu, or beautiful youths—a “third gender” occupying a distinct position in the social and sexual hierarchy of Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868). Featuring over 65 woodblock prints, as well as paintings, luxury objects and personal ornaments, A Third Gender illuminates the richness of lived experience in Edo society, where complex rules governed gender constructs. This groundbreaking exhibition offers a critical artistic and historical context for gender performance and sexual expression, topics that are particularly resonant within society today.

This exhibition is organized by the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

Exhibition-Related Programming

Image-in-Focus Series

Select Sundays at 2 PM, through June 11, 2017

Energetic, 20-minute talks by leading curators, writers, artists, and specialists of Japanese art and culture, offering their unique perspectives on highlights from A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints.

Identifying Wakashu in Edo Culture

Desiring Wakashu

Transgendering Tradition, Celebrating Youth

Dramatis Personae: Performing Gender in the Edo Period

Audio Tour

Listen to the audio tour of Japan Society's spring exhibition, A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints, on view through June 11, 2017. Narration by Michael Chagnon, Ph.D., Curator of Exhibition Interpretation and Asato Ikeda, Assistant Professor of Art History, Fordham University and curator of the exhibition. Check out the full audio tour here.



Copies of the exhibition catalogue A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Edo-Period Prints and Paintings (1600—1868) (2016 Hotei Publishing, paperback) are available for purchase online.

$50/$45 Japan Society members, seniors & students

Visitor Information

Gallery Hours:
Tuesday—Thursday, 12 PM—7 PM
Friday, 12 PM—9 PM
Saturday & Sunday, 11 AM—5 PM
Closed Mondays and on major holidays.

$12/$10 students and seniors
Free for Japan Society members (Join today!)
Free admission on Fridays from 6—9 PM.
  Group Tours:
Tailored private tours for organizations and school groups are available upon request. To arrange tours please call (212) 715-1224.
Two weeks advance request recommended.

Docent Tours:
Tuesday—Saturday at 2:30 PM, Friday at 7 PM
Japanese Language Tour, Friday at 6 PM
Free with gallery admission.

A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints is supported by Sebastian and Miki Izzard and the Japanese Art Dealers Association (JADA). Additional support is provided by the International Fine Print Dealers Association (IFPDA) for the Spring 2017 Image-in-Focus Series.

Exhibitions and Arts & Culture Lecture Programs at Japan Society are made possible in part by the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Endowment Fund, the Mary Griggs Burke Endowment Fund established by the Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation, Chris A. Wachenheim and Friends of the Gallery. Additional support for Japan Society’s Gallery is provided by Mrs. Jane B. DeBevoise, Laurel Gonsalves and Miyeko Murase. Support for Arts & Culture Lecture Programs is provided, in part, by the Sandy Heck Lecture Fund.

Hosoda Eisui (active 1790-1823), Wakashu with a Shoulder Drum (detail), woodblock print, vertical ōban nishiki-e, Royal Ontario Museum 926.18.701, Sir Edmund Walker Collection.

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