Yose were small town theaters which emerged in the mid-18th century, and spread by the end of that century. While kabuki was officially restricted to a handful of officially licensed theaters in each city, yose, which proliferated into nearly every town ward of Edo by the end of the 18th century, hosted performances of a wide variety of other performing arts, including stage magic, shadowplay, jôruri chanting, and rakugo.
The first yose is said to have been established in 1745. These theaters played a key role in the popularization and development of rakugo in particular, and were attended by men and women from a variety of social status categories.
In the 1840s, when Mizuno Tadakuni's Tenpô Reforms targeted the yose, there were around 210 of them in Edo. Though suppressed by the Reforms, they quickly sprang back up once Mizuno fell out of power.
- Eiko Ikegami, Bonds of Civility, Cambridge University Press (2005), 316.