The first illustration in volume I. An abuna-e ('dangerous picture') of a young man seated on an open verandah in the company of a beauty who is carefully manicuring his nails. A towel is draped over a tsuitate standing screen and a teacup is near her to the left. Although she is fully clothed with her obi tied he wears his kimono casually open at the neck. A blossoming tree in the garden sets the scene in a warm season.
B: Under the Kotatsu
The fourth illustration in volume I. A
woman sleeps under heavy blankets draping a kotatsu (heated table) talking to herself and apparently having an erotic dream: "mmm, mmm (hot and humid!), deeper, tighter," oblivious that a man, probably a servant, has lifted the covering in order to see how she positioned herself to straddle the heat source. The intruder peers intently under the table and is aroused by the view.
C: Teahouse Waitress
The seventh illustration in volume I. A
man wearing a striped kimono, with tobacco pouch and brass ashtray netsuke fondles a teahouse waitress (who has just taken a cooling bath) in an outdoor setting beside a meandering stream. A tobako-bon (tobacco tray) is at the lower left beside a tobacco pipe.
D: On the Roadside
The third illustration in volume II. A couple wearing clothing appropriate for travel, she anxiously braces herself by holding a tree for support, her sandals have been kicked off. He grabs her from behind and looks furtively over his shoulder.
E: Wandering Hands
The first illustration of volume III. An abuna-e with a couple seated in an interior. He embraces the young woman from behind and reaches into her kosode while she leans against him and holds her sleeve to her mouth as if to cover a giggle. He teases her: "You're going to be like your mother one day" and admonishes her: "Don't let anyone touch you" as he sneaks his own hands under her clothes.
The fifth illustration in volume III. A couple seated in an interior in an intimate embrace. He holds her from behind and reaches across her chest as she stops his hand between her legs. She nags: "Stop eating so messy (or sleeping around)," he complains: "That is why no one likes you...why are you holding back today?" and wonders now, after three years together, if she is accusing him of betrayal in order to hide that she has been with someone else. In the background a cat has turned his back on the pair, ignoring their bickering.
Attributed to Kitagawa Utamaro, 1753-1806
The Hitachi Sash
(Ehon Hitachi Obi)
complete set of three fukuro-toji ehon (string-bound illustrated books), dark blue covers with worn paper title slips, numbered jo, chu, ge (top, middle, bottom) with corresponding frontispiece illustrations: the first with a pine branch with a suggestive opening, the second with a section of bamboo, and the third with a flowering sprig of plum, volume I with six double-page erotic illustrations, volume II and III each with seven, and all three with a final single-page illustration of a flower arrangement in phallus-shaped vases, ca. 1800
hanshibon 8 3/8 by 5 7/8 in., 21.3 by 14.8 cm
This set of three ehon appears to be rare. There is an earlier three-volume sumizuri-e set by Utamaro published in 1795 with the same title but the compositions are quite different. The size, format, color palette, and scale of the figures with abundant dialogue in this set is similar to other works by Utamaro produced from approximately 1799 to 1803, the most famous of which is Ehon waraijogo (The Laughing Drinker), ca. 1803. See Lane for comparison with a detail of an aiban print he attributes to Utamaro and dates to possibly the mid-1790s which is a similar composition to the third illustration in the third (ge) volume, in which a beauty pokes her lover's face with a hair ornament while straddling his lap.
Hayashi and Lane (eds.), The Complete Ukiyo-e Shunga, no. 15, Utamaro, 1997, p. 16, fig 53
Uhlenbeck and Winkel, Japanese Erotic Fantasies, 2005, pp., 134-142 (similar works)
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