Suzuki Harunobu, Eight Fashionable Views of Edo: Vespers Bedmate at Ueno

Suzuki Harunobu, ca. 1724-1770

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

a couple entwined while enjoying the view of water lilies on Shinobazu pond from the second story window of a teahouse at Ueno, ca. 1769-70

chuban yoko-e 8 1/4 by 10 3/4 in., 21 by 27.2 cm

The poem is a parody associated with Mii no bansho (Vespers [or Evening] Bell at Mii), which is one of the Omi 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
koro machietaru
hana sakari
yoso ni wa tsuke yo
On this holy hill
we waited for the season
of the flower blossom:
sound your doleful note elsewhere
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
sazo tsutaetaru
yoban tsuzukete
ireai no ane
This is the extent
to which he as passed it on
during his home leave:
four times in succession he
joined with the elder sister!

This impression published:
Klompmakers, Japanese Erotic Prints, 2001, p. 21, fig. 6

Waterhouse, The Harunobu Decade, 2013, nos. 316 & 459 (and poem translations)



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site last updated
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