In 1621, a brothel owner wrote a petition to the Japanese shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. He made an argument that if a “red light district” was established in Edo (the city that later became Tokyo), it would be beneficial to everyone. The shogunate agreed, and not surprisingly, the owner of the brothel was appointed as the owner of the new recreation area.
Yoshiwara means “reed field” because it was basically built on a drained swamp and was completed in 1626. From the opening of the gate until the area was closed by the government in 1959, Yoshiwara was still the legendary pornographic version of Disney World (Disney World) suitable for rich and energetic adult gentlemen, not itchy. But for women working there, this is a prison they cannot escape.
Most likely a powdered animal bone or horn, it was marketed as the bone of a human. Specifically, it was represented as the “penis bone” of a legendary, well-endowed monk. Humans don’t actually have a penis bone – but when did that ever stop an entrepreneur out to bilk his customers of their money? Gentlemen purchased a vial of powdered bone, mixed it in sake (rice beer), and swallowed the potion as an aphrodisiac – no doubt hoping some of the monk’s epic awesomeness might rub off on him.
Note: other potency enhancers included freshly-slaughtered snapping-turtle’s blood, elephant urine, and tobacco, nicknamed “courtesan grass.” I’ll leave you to figure out why.