A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints | Third Floor Centre Block

  • Old Japanese painting
    Hosoda Eisui (fl. 1790–1823), Wakashu with a Shoulder Drum. Sir Edmund Walker Collection
  • Old Japanese painting
    Suzuki Harunobu (1725–1770), Youth on a Long-Tailed Turtle as Urashima Tarō, 1767. Sir Edmund Walker Collection
  • Old Japanese painting
    Suzuki Harunobu (1725–1770), Mitate-e of a Poem by Saigyō Hōshi, 1767/8. Sir Edmund Walker Collection
  • Old Japanese painting
    Kitagawa Utamaro (1753–1806), From the Series Fujin tewaza jūnikō (Twelve Forms of Women’s Handiwork), Late 1790s. Sir Edmund Walker Collection
  • Old Japanese painting
    Bunrō (fl. 1801–1804), Wakashu and Young Woman with Hawks, ca. 1803. Gift of Ramsay and Eleanor Cook

A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints
May 7, 2016 to November 27, 2016

Four hundred years ago in Japan, male youths, called wakashu, were the objects of sexual desire for women and men. Creating a third gender, wakashu looked different from both women and adult men and played distinct social and sexual roles.

The exhibition, A Third Gender, explores the complex system of sexual desire and social expectation from 1603 to 1868 in Edo Japan. Featuring stunning woodblock prints, paintings, illustrated books, kimono, and armour, it tells a pivotal story in the history of human sexuality. Unsettling contemporary North American values, A Third Gender invites you to think differently about gender and sexuality.

A Third Gender Program Series

It's Complicated: Gender Ambiguity in Early-Mondern Japan
June 7, 2016
Explore the roles of gender, sexuality and erotic art in Japanese culture with internationally renowned scholar Joshua Mostow. 
*Please note this lecture will contain explicit images and discussions of a sexual nature, and is not reommended for those under the age of 18.*
Register here

Lost in Translation? Gender and Sexuality Across Time and Cultures
June 21, 2016
How do we understand representations of sexuality, including same sex sexuality, across different historical and cultural moments without imposing contemporary norms? Join our panel as they explore concepts surrounding our exhibition A Third Gender.
Register here

The Art of Japan
October 16, 2016
Experience the fundamentals of Japanese art in this in-depth workshop lead by ROM Educator George Hewson. This full day workshop includes a guided visit of the exhibition A Third Gender, and lunch.
Register here


Past Events

Elements of Sake
May 3, 2016
Join Michael Tremblay for an introduction and guided tasting of sake, designed to demystify and engage. This special evening will explore the basics of sake, its production and history, and the culture that created it.

Japanese Visual Culture: Gender & Sexual Diversity
May 12, 2016
Asato Ikeda, the curator of A Third Gender, will examine the role of male youths in Edo-period Japan, and how this gender and sexuality system can be understood from a contemporary North American persepctive.
Free with Museum Admission.  RSVP here


Asato Ikeda

Curator (Bishop White Postdoctoral Fellow of Japanese Art)

Sascha Priewe

Managing Director - Culture Centres (Ancient Cultures, World Art & Culture, Textiles & Fashions)


Comment by Martin Williams

Please let me know when there is a catalogue available - in case I can't get out to TO to see the show
PS I used to make reproductions of far eastern porcelain for the ROM in the 80s. My favorite was a translucent yellow bowl.