Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾北斎 (1760–1849)
Untitled (Plate No. 4)
From the series Picture Book: Patterns of Couples (Ehon tsui no hinagata)
Japan, Edo period (1615–1868), c. 1812
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
Gift of James A. Michener, 1991
A man and woman are depicted in post-coital slumber. A pair of mice appears rutting before them, and a housecat quietly observes both couples from behind the woman's pillow, lamenting that he is the only one not having any fun. The uchiwa fan covering the woman's breast is inscribed with a senryū poem: "Benkei and Komachi were both fools, says the old wife." (Benkei to komachi wa baka da naa kakaā.) The poem is a response to the popular belief that both the warrior-monk Musashibō Benkei (1155–1189) and the waka poet Ono no Komachi (c. 825–c. 900) were chaste throughout their lives.
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