The Courtesan Takao

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Takao is the name used by several celebrated courtesans who lived in Edo in the 1600s and early 1700s. It is not known which Takao is depicted here, but Stevenson* suggests that it may be the 6th Takao, who was also known for her writing talents. Early in the morning her lover has just left the pleasure quarters to return to the city. She hears the lonely call of the cuckoo at dawn, and composes the accompanying verse as she imagines her lover arriving at the boat landing in Komakata: “By now you must be near Komakata – a cuckoo calls.” (printed October 1885)

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