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With no regard for human rights, Edo’s pleasure quarters and the institution of slavery created a kind of punishment called snow torture. What we see in theater at the Yamanaya scene from Ake garasu yume no awa yuki* was nothing out of the ordinary at brothels in old times. Now that licensed prostitution is totally abolished, we should be glad that such torture is no longer practiced.
*The kanji characters literally mean “morning crows dream frothy snow”. It was originally the title of a famous song from the Shinnai reciting tradition based on a real story of a couple who committed double suicide. The second half of the song is a detailed description of snow torture. The song was later adapted for various other song traditions and theater forms such as Kabuki.