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Shijuhatte means 48 hands for its literal translation. In most widely known sense, Shijuhatte denotes 48 sexual positions. Also known as Edo Shijuhatte, this Japanese rendition of Kama Sutra, if you will, was developed and popularized in the Edo period (1603-1868).
At the outset, Shijuhatte is said to refer not only to sexual positions and/or sexual foreplays, but also to stories of romance.

As commerce flourished during the Edo period, the cultural values were redefined, and Chonin, the merchant class gradually gained economic power. And, a new urban culture developed. Shunga, a form of Ukiyoe*, is one of utmost symbolic art form developed in this period, reflecting the new Chonin culture. Ukiyoe* is one of the most well-known Japanese arts worldwide.

Ukiyoe sought to express the aesthetics of everyday life. Deriving from Ukiyoe, a coherent theme of Shunga is to articulate the maximum of the sexual mores of everyday people in the widest variety of forms as well as an extensive range of fetishes.
Shijuhatte, unsurprisingly, is most frequently recognized in Shunga.

Characters depicted on Shunga includes heterosexual, homosexual, old, young, and rich & poor. Many acclaimed Ukiyoe artists earning their places in history, drew Shunga in their careers, which did not detract from their prestige as artists.