Many fine woodcuts (the first color-printed), of which 29 are double-page & 9 are single-page. 50 folding leaves. 8vo, orig. blue wrappers (rubbed), new stitching. [Japan]: “Iki no omoitsuki nari,” [a playful pun meaning the publisher is sharing the thoughts of a connoisseur], Preface dated ca. 1764-65.
First edition of this fairly early shunga, and extremely rare; no copy listed in WorldCat nor the Union Catalogue of Japanese Books. We have located one copy in the Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto.
This is a richly illustrated and witty book, an obvious parody of the ancient medical text “Shokanron,” in which the author takes a novel approach: he describes how to appraise women from a sexual perspective. We find nothing like this book in the great exhibition catalogue Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art (British Museum: 2013). The text is filled with double-meanings and puns and has almost the quality of a textbook. The beginning of the text states that the proper appreciation of women is of equal importance and gravity as the nine-year contemplation of Buddha by Bodhidharma. The author relates that this book was the result of 57 men with much sexual experience gathering and making a classification of gyokumon (a woman’s genital area). Each orifice is discussed and graded.
The first woodcut is color-printed and depicts a woman, her internal organs, and the three sexual orifices (one can make a woman pregnant, the others not). The qualities and pleasurable sensations a man derives from each orifice is described. The many explicit woodcuts that follow contain dialogue alongside the images of men and women coupling. The men and women come from very different socio-economic levels and ages (from aristocrats to samurai to merchants to actors to prostitutes), all revealed by their hairstyles, attire, and room interiors. Later woodcuts illustrate the anatomical variations within women (short necks, big hips, etc., also discussed in the text).
Towards the end is a section on how to make a good match based on sexual characteristics. Another section describes how not to make a woman pregnant.
The date of the Preface is based on two kanji characters that sound like “Horeki 15.” The Horeki era ended in year 13 (1763). The Preface was written and signed by “Keichoin,” which has sexual connotations based on the characters.
The first double-page woodcut did not print well on the recto (nor did the text on the verso) but is largely intact. Minor, mostly marginal, stains to four folding leaves. Minor worming to Preface leaves and, again, minor worming, mostly marginal, towards end. In spite of these defects, this copy is in fine and fresh condition. Preserved in a chitsu.
Item ID: 6881