literature which reached the peak
of its popularity during the Meiji period
The main subject was the "Poison Woman", a femme fatal who traditionally brings about the ruin of the man.
Oni-Baba is one such infamous poison woman. She assassinated her princely lover and severed his penis before escaping.
There was actually a tradition wherein women who had been convicted of such crimes would travel the Japanese countryside to "confess" their crimes to audiences who would pay them for the "performance". This was the only way they could survive, as securing a position in society was extremely difficult under such conditions.
Later when the actual crimes declined, serial stories (or gesaku) would appear in the newspapers of the time. The popularity rose very quickly and soonafter a huge corpus of Poison Women literature was to follow.