In Edo Period Japan (1615-1868), the “floating world” was a phrase that referred to both the pleasure quarters in major cities and a pleasure-seeking way of life. The most famous of these pleasure quarters was the Yoshiwara—a walled and moated district in Edo (present-day Tokyo) where one could abandon the rigors of daily life in pursuit of sensual delights.


Like Las Vegas today, the Yoshiwara was a destination that traded in sex, excess and fantasy, and its reputation as such—spread by the stories and artworks it inspired—was critical to its economic success and hold on the popular imagination.


Enter this complex world through more than 60 works of art, including paintings, woodblock prints and kimonos, and featuring a spectacular 58-foot painted scroll by Hishikawa Moronobu (d. 1694). Purposefully excluding the harsh realities of the sex trade, floating world artists created an idealized realm of high style and exquisite beauty. Produced by some of the most talented artists of their time, these artworks afforded vicarious pleasure to the many who could not access the Yoshiwara directly, while luring others to spend more freely. Seduction offers you the opportunity to explore the intersection of art and desire, and to consider how fantasy can attract and obscure.



Seduction: Japan’s Floating World | The John C. Weber Collection

Seduction reveals the urban pleasures of Edo–period Japan (1615-1868) through more than 60 works of art, including paintings, kimonos and an almost 58-foot-long handscroll vividly portraying a visit to the Yoshiwara–Edo’s most celebrated pleasure district. The art of Seduction comes to life at our opening party Courtesans, Cooks, Samurai and Servants on Thurs, Feb 19, 7–11 pm.



The Printer’s Eye: Ukiyo-e from the Grabhorn Collection

See a superb assemblage of rarely seen woodblock prints depicting the “floating world,” a phrase often associated with the entertainment and pleasure districts of Edo–period Japan (1615-1868). Delve into the art of the floating world and discover the hidden meanings, and exquisite craft, of these beautiful and complex images.



Tetsuya Ishida: Saving the World with a Brushstroke
FINAL WEEKS: Closes Feb 22

Tetsuya Ishida once said he wanted his paintings to “depict the world as [he felt] it and let other people feel it freely.” These eight remarkable paintings exhibit the range of Ishida’s themes, including the pressures of academic and office life, social dislocation, the dulling effects of mechanization and the search for identity. See how this show has touched some of our visitors here.



From Two Arises Three: The Collaborative Works of Arnold Chang and Michael Cherney
FINAL WEEKS: Closes Mar 1

When Chinese ink painter Arnold Chang and photographer Michael Cherney met in 2007, there was synergy. They recognized a compatibility between Chang’s personal brushwork and Cherney’s granular photographs. These 20 works, both individual and collaborative, strive to bridge the gap between Chinese ink painting and contemporary art.



Tradition on Fire: Contemporary Japanese Ceramics from the Paul and Kathy Bissinger Collection
Through Apr 5

22 works by 20 artists show how Japanese potters appreciate and carry on the traditions of ceramics, while also embracing the new.


Programs and Events


Lunar New Year Celebration: The Year of the Ram
Sun, Feb 8, 10:30 am–4 pm
FREE with museum admission

We can’t believe it’s that time of year again…Lunar New Year! Students from the Chinese American International School and China Dance School and Theatre will perform music and dances. Feeling adventurous? Learn stilt walking and ribbon dancing from West Portal Elementary students. Storytelling, art activities, martial arts demonstrations and a reading from children’s book author Oliver Chin round out an action-packed day for the whole family.



Family Fun Days
Sun, Feb 15, 10:30 am–2 pm
FREE with admission

February Family Fun Days are centered around Lunar New Year. Learn about symbols with sustainable art projects inspired by flowers and plants.



Courtesans, Cooks, Samurai and Servants: The Seduction Opening Party
Thurs, Feb 19, 7–11 pm
$20, $15 college students, FREE for member

Interdisciplinary artist Midori will return armed with cardboard props, wigs and a frisky cast of characters to pepper the party with scenes from Seduction’s centerpiece—a 58-foot scroll depicting a lively visit to the Yoshiwara. Follow a detailed map of performances throughout the museum, or grab a cocktail and see where the night takes you. This bold and bawdy event—DJed by Proof (Massive Selector)—is your invitation to take in the exhibition, drink and dance, and experience the intersection of art and desire. Tomorrow (Feb 4) is the last day to get early bird tickets for just $15. What a steal! Buy them now.



Opera at the Asian
Thurs, Feb 26, 7–9 pm
$20 members, $30 general public

Join us for a special night of traditional Asian folk songs and Western arias sung by Adler Fellows from the Merola Opera program: Nian Wang, Chong Wang, Edward Nelson and Sun Ha Yoon. A wine and cheese reception follows.



SFUSD Arts Festival 2015
Sat, Feb 28–Sun, Mar 8
FREE with admission

The San Francisco Unified School District proudly presents the annual SFUSD Arts Festival, a celebration of student creativity in visual, literary, media, and performing arts. Enjoy diverse performances and peruse more than 600 artworks created by students from San Francisco schools.


For Members


Seduction Preview Day
Thurs, Feb 19, 10 am–5 pm
Open to all members

Beat the crowds and preview Seduction during exclusive members-only viewing hours. Then view a series of rarely seen woodblock prints in The Printer’s Eye: Ukiyo-e from the Grabhorn Collection.

Limited time only! Renew or upgrade and you’ll receive a beautiful hardcover notebook featuring a stunning woodblock print by Suzuki Harunobu. Notebooks will be available to pick up at The member desk on Preview Day. Not a member? Join today to take advantage of this special offer.



Recommended For You: YBCA Opening Night Party
Fri, Feb 13, 8 pm
YBCA: 701 Mission St, SF

YBCA is pleased to offer you discounted tickets for $10 (originally $15) to the opening of A Special Curatorial Project with Rirkrit Tiravanija: The Way Things Go. Enjoy a night of music and libations to celebrate contemporary Thai artist Rirkirt Tiravanija’s newest project incorporating seeds, plants, food, recipes, and related kitchen materials that have migrated across regions and time. Buy your tickets online and be sure to enter promo code RIRKRITAAM to redeem your member discount.



Special Offer: BAM/PFA charter membership discount

BAM/PFA is moving to downtown Berkeley in early 2016. Be a part of this special moment in BAM/PFA history by joining as a Charter Member today. You’ll receive 20% off your two-year membership and enjoy new exclusive benefits, including members-only off-site events throughout 2015, reciprocal benefits to multiple Bay Area arts organizations, and much more! Lock in these discounted rates now to take advantage of all the benefits of membership in BAM/PFA’s first year downtown.


Museum Store


Year of the Ram

Baaaaaaa-ring in Lunar New Year at our museum store. It’s the year of the ram, and we’ve got all the appropriate festive gifts. Ram, sheep and goat-centric goods from across Asian can be yours, like Japanese paper wallets ($4.50), zodiac animals and Year of the Sheep by Oliver Chin ($15.95).



Author Reading with Lily Yuriko Nakai Havey
Sat, Feb 21, 2–4 pm
FREE with admission

Author Lily Havey will read from her memoir, “Gasa Gasa Girl Goes to Camp,” combining storytelling, illustrations and personal photographs to recount her youth in two Japanese American prison camps during World War II. Havey will present watercolors and other artwork from her book, followed by a Q&A session. Book signing after the reading in South Court outside the store entrance.



SF Ballet presents RAkU
Thurs, Feb 5 and Sat, Feb 7
301 Van Ness, St, SF

RAkU is a story about love and separation, desire and jealousy, violence and grief. Based on the true story of the burning of Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion in 1950, RAkU is not to be missed. Visit and use the code AAMRAKU to save 25% on tickets for performances on Feb 5 at 8 pm, Feb 7 at 2 pm, and Feb 7 at 8 pm.


Comments are closed.