(From the pages of Erotic Art History:)
Today’s piece of historic erotic art comes to us from late 18th century Japan and is by the well known artist, Kitagawa Utamaro. The piece is succinctly titled “Client Lubricating a Prostitute” (probably a modern title by a museum, though they would have had access to a translation of the storyline being told in the Japanese text in the print). Japan traditionally saw “nanshoku” (man on man sex and/or love) as normal and sex workers, both male and female, as a regular part of life.
In this scene, as the title implies, a male patron has lubricated the ass of a kagema (a male sex worker) just prior to penetration as a figure peeps in through the window. Both men are on the floor and are still wearing their clothes, but have loosened and arranged them in a manner that exposes their bodies enough to allow for sex. The client is sitting directly behind the kagema with his massive cock fully erect and just inches from the kagema’s asshole as he reaches up his clothes with one hand while he places his other hand in his own mouth as he stares at the kagema’s asshole in seemingly deep contemplation. The kagema, meanwhile, is on his hands and knees a looks slightly backwards over his shoulder in anticipation of his immediately pending penetration.
ADDENDUM NOTE - Someone informed me that they had previously read an interpretation that the client is getting spit on his fingers to use as lube. Though spit is such a bad lube that it is barely a tick above using no lube at all, it does seem to be potentially consistent with everything. That said, it seems somewhat ridiculous to be speculating on what it going on when it is spelled out in the image in plain Japanese, so if anyone can translate the text or provide additional information, I would be very grateful.
REFERENCE / FURTHER READING
(1) WIKIPEDIA IMAGE: “Kitagawa Utamaro, "Client Lubricating a Prostitute,” while another peers through, end of the eighteenth century print, F. M. Bertholet Collection”
WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE: “Kagema”
WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE: “Utamaro“
WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE: “Homosexuality in Japan”