Suzuki Harunobu 鈴木春信 (1725?-1770)
From the book Fashionable, Lusty Mane’emon
(Fūryū Enshoku Mane’emon 風流艷色真似えもん)
Japan, Edo period (1615-1868), 1770
Woodblock-printed book; ink and color on paper
Gift of James A. Michener, 1991
This erotic story by Harunobu centers around an innately lustful protagonist named Ukiyonosuke (literally, “Follower of the Floating World”), a popular character first introduced in a 1712 publication by the Kyoto-based novelist Ejima Kiseki (1667-1736). Ukiyonosuke’s quest to learn the secrets of the Art of Love leads him to an encounter with two female deities, who Harunobu depicts as the famous Edo beauties known in his mainstream prints. These women reward Ukiyonosuke with a magical dumpling that shrinks him to the size of a bean and enables him to spy upon one amorous couple after another.
While the latter half of the book is set exclusively in the pleasure quarters, here in the second scene of the book, the protagonist discovers a lecherous calligraphy teacher seducing a pupil in his classroom. Harunobu underscores the teacher’s moral disgrace not only through the protagonist’s outraged narration but also through comparison to a cat rutting on the windowsill.
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