Water Lilies

Item No.: P2993
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“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). 

Additional Information

Artist: Suzuki Harunobu (c.1724–1770)

Date: c.1769

Size: 7 2/3” x 10 2/3” inches (Chuban yoko-e size)

Series: ‘Furyu Edo Hyakkei: Ueno no Bansho’ (Eight Fashionable Views of Edo: Vespers Bedmate at Ueno)

Impression: Fine

Color: Very good

Condition: Very good (Slightly backed, minor wear and soiling, marks and flaws. Some very small repairs)

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