A rare and Japanese woodblock printed book of shunga (erotic art). This unusual piece is themed after the famous 53 Stations of the Tokaido Road. The Tokaido Road was the trunk road that ran down the main island of Japan (Honshu). The stations were stopping places, much like the stage coach inns in the West, where travelers watered their horses, rested and ate. The Tokaido stations were made famous by several series of woodblock prints, of which the one by Hiroshige was the most celebrated. This shunga (erotic art) album was published during Hiroshige's lifetime, so use of the theme could be assured of good sales. It is essentially a light-hearted variation on the theme, showing couples engaged in amorous pursuits against a backdrop of landscapes and images of the stations. The latter part of the book continues the theme, but in black and white, and without the erotic subject matter. This book is complete, in one volume.The erotic images, landscapes and topography are filled with costumes and interesting detail. In the second plate you see a splendid fish on a blue and white dish. The name and location for each image is listed in a small cartouche at the top right hand corner of each plate.
The covers are worn, and soiled, but the contents are in excellent condition with minimal finger soiling. There is one tiny worm hole which penetrates several sheets, but does not does not affect the images.
The collation reads, "1 page frontispiece showing an open book and the title "Tokaido Gojusan Tsugi (Japanese cedar)" (53 Stations of the Tokaido)." This appears together with the author's name "Insuetei Gesaku ". The characters used for his name literally translate as "obscene water pavilion" and "pleasure." There follows two pages of text, and a single sheet of print depicting a man and woman with Mount Fuji and the famous Nihonbashu Bridge in Tokyo (known as Edo at this time) in the background. This location is the traditional starting place of the trip along the Tokaido Road. 13 double-page color illustrations, and one single-page color illustration. The book is completed with 30 pages of black and white drawings of the road with text. The cover is a portrait of a courtesan. The title and and the back covers are printed with a pattern of red leaves.
This album was published in the 1850s, during the late Edo Period. As is typical, the book is unsigned. It is an Utagawa school piece, and was probably designed by Toyokuni 3rd (Kunisada). He could not publish under his real name, or would have risked arrest. Thus, the use of a nom de plume.
- Ink and Paper
- 19th Century
- 5" x 7" (width, height)