From labels on upper covers: Wakayagi zoshi [Stories of Youthful Vitality]. Shigemasa or Masayoshi KITAO, artist.
From labels on upper covers: Wakayagi zoshi [Stories of Youthful Vitality].
From labels on upper covers: Wakayagi zoshi [Stories of Youthful Vitality].
From labels on upper covers: Wakayagi zoshi [Stories of Youthful Vitality].
From labels on upper covers: Wakayagi zoshi [Stories of Youthful Vitality].
From labels on upper covers: Wakayagi zoshi [Stories of Youthful Vitality].

From labels on upper covers: Wakayagi zoshi [Stories of Youthful Vitality].

21 double-page & 6 single-page woodcuts. 14; 13; 12 folding leaves. Three vols. 8vo, orig. decorated wrappers, orig. block-printed title labels on upper covers (label on the first volume partly defective), new stitching. [Japan]: Preface dated 1804.

First edition of this rare shunga book; it is an example of kaidaibon (book with new title). It is based on the Ehon kontan makura [Illustrated Pillow Book from the Heart] of 1783, which, in turn, is a “parody of the ancient Chinese legend of The Dream at Handan (J. Kantan no yume)…the hero Lu Sheng (J. Rosei) had experiences with many different women. However, this turns out to be a dream which had taken place merely in the time that it takes to toast some chestnut cakes.”–Asano Shugo, “Shunga and the Rise of Print Culture” in Shunga. Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art (British Museum: 2013), p. [108].

The woodcuts in Ehon kontan makura have been attributed to Shigemasa Kitao (1739-1820), and we believe the woodcuts in our edition are also by Shigemasa or his disciple Masayoshi Kitao (1764-1824).

The fine black-and-white woodcuts depict the story of a young samurai visiting a tea house in the countryside. He asks the owner for a meal, and she replies that she doesn’t have anything suitable for him, but there are a number of young ladies (pictured in the first double-page woodcut) who might be good substitutes. The remainder of the images show the samurai and various women engaged in numerous sexual positions.

From the pictures and the text we learn that the tea house was actually a brothel. The text in each volume is headed with witty titles, each with sexual double-meanings.

Nice set, but there is some carefully repaired worming touching the images throughout. WorldCat lists only one copy, at the Nichibunken, Kyoto.

Price: $6,500.00

Item ID: 7714

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