The yuya (湯屋), literally “hot water shops”, were places where customers had the opportunity to spend time dedicated to cleansing the body in the company of friends, family, neighbors or even strangers in order to relax and socialize. Contributing to the popularity of public baths in the Edo period (江戸時代) were female attendants, known as yuna (湯女), assigned to the assistance of the bathers. They were mainly responsible for scrubbing the back of the guests, but they could also take care of their entertainment and it was not uncommon for them, after closing time, to perform additional services dedicated to male customers.
This beautiful large vertical format woodblock print, depicting the public bath at Shiba Iikura (芝飯倉) in Tokyo, was made by the artist Shosai Ikkei (昇斎一景) and is taken from the “Selection of Thirty-six Humorous Views of Famous Places in Tokyo” (東京名所三十六戯撰), a series produced in 1872 by the publisher Yorozuya Magobei (万屋孫兵衛).
The print on Japanese washi paper (和紙), despite the right signs of aging and the presence of small restorations, is in very good general condition.