“A couple entwined around each other watch the water lilies in Ueno.”
The poem featured in the above cloud is a parody associated with Mii no bansho (Evening Bell at Mii), which is one of theOmi Hakkei (Eight Views of Omi), a popular visual parody based on the classic Chinese theme Eight Views of the Xiao and the Xiang. A poem found on a Harunobu chuban from circa 1768 (Waterhouse, no. 316) shifts the 'Evening Bell' from Miidera to Ueno:
kono yama no On this holy hill
koro machietaru we waited for the season
hana sakari of the flower blossom:
yoso ni wa tsuke sound your doleful note elsewhere
yo iriai no kane vespers bell of Ueno!
The poem on this shunga print also places the bell in Ueno but in a further erotic parody of the theme. The phrase 'iriai no kana' is replaced with 'ireai no ane'; and 'sho' for concubine replaces 'sho' for bell. The poem explains the young man is on his yadosagari, the annual break given to the samurai for home leave which was granted for a few days in the 3rd month and was typically either spent at home or at an inn. The Shinobazu Pond at Ueno was well-known for its lotus and for the deai-chaya (meeting tea-houses) which had rooms overlooking the pond.
kono hodo mo This is the extent
sazo tsutaetaru to which he as passed it on
yadosagari during his home leave:
yoban tsuzukete four times in succession he
ireai no ane joined with the elder sister!
Waterhouse, The Harunobu Decade, 2013, nos. 316 & 459 (and poem translations)
Reference: on p.21 (Ill.6) in Japanese Erotic Prints (2001) by Inge Klompmakers.
Original antique Japanese color woodblock print. Shunga (Erotic picture).