Picture-book Models of Couples
(Ehon tsuhi no hinagata)
from an album of twelve prints; depicting a man wearing an plaid kimono making love to his partner under a kotatsu, an illustrated book is tossed aside to the lower left, and another volume with a matching cover rests on top of the kotatsu, ca. 1812
oban yoko-e 10 1/2 by 14 3/4 in., 26.7 by 37.4 cm
The couple were apparently stimulated by the contents of the book which has a suggestive title, Inyo awase gyokumonei (in and yo refer to the female and male energies, also known as yin and yang in Chinese). The title of this series, Tsui no hinagata, is a typical play on words. Tsui (or tsuhi) can be read as 'couple' or 'male and female pairs' or it could be pronounced tsubi, an antiquated term for vulva. Hinagata can refer to 'patterns' such as interlocking kimono patterns, or it can mean 'sample.' As such, the title could be read as something as innocuous as 'Patterns of Couples' or as lewd as 'Samples of Vulvas.'
Highlights of Japanese Printmaking Part 4: Shunga, Scholten Japanese Art, 2014, cat. no. 39
Fukuda Kazuhiko, Ukiyo-e no higi ga, 1978, p. 101
Jack Hillier, The Art of Hokusai in Book Illustration, 1980, p. 166-169, no. 143
Matthi Forrer with texts by Edmond de Goncourt, Hokusai, 1988, p. 228, no. 251
Richard Lane and Hayashi Yoshikazu The Complete Ukiyo-e Shunga, no. 13, Hokusai and the Tsuhi no hinagata Shunga Album, 1997, pl. 6
Chris Uhlenbeck and Margarita Winkel, Japanese Erotic Fantasies: Sexual Imagery of the Edo Period, 2005, pp. 157-158
Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays by appointment only
Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit between 11am and 4pm preferably for no more than two individuals at a time.
Visitors are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing at their discretion.
site last updated
May 25, 2023
Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475
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