The flowering of popular culture during Japan's Edo period (1600–1868) brought about a revolution in Japanese publishing and the art of the book. With prosperity and the spread of literacy, particularly among the merchant class, a great variety of reading material developed, including illustrated books of poetry, legends and folk-tales, romances, and travel guides.
Utagawa Kunisada, Lovers, in the book An Appraisal of Sensual Pleasure (Shiki no nagame). Color woodcut, ca. 1830s. Collection of Arthur Tress