1: Ryushinzan Shrine
Ukiyonosuke in his original size encounters the famous beauties, Osen of the Kagaya teahouse who is representing the Ryushin shrine, and Ofuji of the Yanagi-ya who represents the Kinryuzan shrine. They offer him the magic shrinking potion in response to his prayers for greater wisdom.
2: Shinkai-Shima (Forced Love)
Mane'emon's first encounter is to witness a calligraphy teacher taking advantage of a young pupil by forcing himself on her while promising to promote her ahead of her fellow students. Mane'emon hides beneath the table and expresses his outrage at the teacher's reprehensible behavior, and points out his large nosea feature associated with people of an evil nature. As Mane'emon disapproves of the scene, it is left to the cats on the verandah to take up the responsibility of mimicking the action in this print.
3: Ichatsuki-Shima (Busy Love)
Mane'emon is impressed by a nimble beauty applying moxa to an older woman while simultaneously entwined with her partner; he also applies moxa to himself in the foreground.
4: Yarikuri-Shima (Love Revealed)
Mane'emon cowers under a blanket to hide from the fury of a pregnant wife who grabs her husband by his fundoshi to pull him away from a visiting niece. Mane'emon explains that in spite of the uproar the niece does remain at the house to assist with the childbirth.
5: Fukiyagahama, Sakai-Shima (Playing with a Dandy)
Mane'emon visits the neighborhood of Fukiyamachi and Sakaimachi and uses a kite to fly to the second floor of a teahouse that specializes in young men. The kagema (male prostitute) lies backwards on top of his partner. The chrysanthemum motif on the futon is a frequent symbol in shunga for homosexual love as the blossoms are thought to resemble the male aperture.
6: Ukkari Shinden (Peasant Love)
Mane'emon enjoys a tobacco pipe beneath a tree while a samurai wearing a mask takes a young girl by surprise in a rice field. Her parents mistake the masked creature to be associated with Inari, the god of rice, and rather than save her from the assault they reverently pray to the deity.
7: Kibakarimura (Pleasures of the Aged)
Mane'emon notes a poor old farmer suffering from enlarge scrotum isn't deterred from kissing his wife when he is inspired by the sound of his son and daughter-in-law's passions behind a mosquito net in the next room.
8: Ikaho Onsen (Hot Springs at Ikaho)
A couple entwined while listening to a blind shamisen player at the Ikaho hot spring in Kozuke Province, at right Mane'emon dries his head after emerging from the bath.
9: From Ikaho to Edo
The gait of her trotting horse has put a travelling beauty into the mood so she seduces the horse driver while waiting for a ferry; the enthusiastic attendant waives his fee and offers to take her two stops further to the Kumagaya embankment on the Arakawa River.
10: Sericulture Chamber
Mane'emon hides beneath silk worm trays in a farmer's house as a young husband pushes his wife to the floor for a hasty encounter because he is aroused by the Azuma nishiki-e ('brocade pictures from the Eastern capitol,' probably shunga) which his brother brought back as a souvenir from Edo.
11: Shinju No Genba
(The Place of the Heart)
A young couple are nearly discovered at night as they try to have their last encounter before committing double-suicide; Mane'emon contemplates how to prevent the tragedy and resolves to hide the short sword to prevent them from breaking the hearts of their parents
12: Yuriko Kitsugenkaku (Licensed Quarter of Yoshiwara)
In the Kitsugen quarters of the Yurikoku (the land of pleasure), the famous onnagata (female role) actor Segawa Kikunojo II (1741-1773) sits on a verandah while reaching through the folds of a young shinzo (apprentice courtesan) under the displeased gaze of her mentor at the left; Mane'emon watches the encounter and breaks wind to add to the scent of the cherry blossoms.
Suzuki Harunobu, ca. 1724-1770
Elegant Erotic Mane'emon
(Furyu Enshoku Mane'emon)
each chuban yoko-e approximately 8 3/8 by 11 1/2 in., 21.2 by 29.2 cm
This set of twelve prints, in remarkably pristine conditions, is from the first album (of two volumes) published by Nishimuraya Yohachi, with text that is very likely by Komatsuya Hyakki (1720-1793), an influential artist, writer and patron who is thought to have commissioned prints by Harunobu. The story is a light-hearted tale following the adventures of Ukiyonosuke (lit. 'man of the floating world'), an Eddoite who is transformed into a tiny form as small as a bean and he takes the name Mane'emon ('imitation man'). Once transformed, Mane'emon resolves to seek out understanding of the Way of Love. He travels around and is able, thanks to his very small size, observe people in their most intimate settings, commenting on what he sees and frequently mimicking their actions. The first volume depicts his adventures in Edo and the countryside; the second volume relates the activities of the Yoshiwarawhich very frequently revolves around the rivalries and manipulations of its occupants. The Mane'emon series, with its great humor and insight, is arguably Harunobu's best-known and best-loved shunga works.
This set published:
Klompmakers, Japanese Erotic Prints, 2001, pp. 52-77, cat. B.1a- B.12,
Uhlenbeck and Winkel, Japanese Erotic Fantasies, 2005, pp. 98-99,
nos. 22 a, b, c, d
Hayashi and Lane (eds.), The Complete Ukiyo-e Shunga, no. 21, Harunobu, 1998, pp. 11-14, pl. 5
Kobayashi (ed.), Ukiyo-e soroimono makura-e: Shunga, Vol. II, 1997,
Shirakura and Hayakawa, Shunga: Japanese Erotic Art, 2009, cat. nos. 17, 63, 78, 85, 136, 141 (sheets 7, 2, 9, 6, 4, 5)
Calza, Poem of the Pillow and Other Stories, 2010, pp. 152-161
Clark et al., Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art, 2013, p. 163-164 (text on sheet 9), pp.173-176, p. 407 (text on sheet 2)
Waterhouse, The Harunobu Decade, 2013, nos. 431-440
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