Below you can find the translation* of this Kunisada design that features a homoerotic liaison between a wakashu-kabuki actor and an older lover. The tableau is from his ‘Ehon koi no kaguya‘ series that was issued c.1827.
Added are both the English and Kanji text. At the end of this post you can find a revealing conclusion…
The beginning of the inscriptions on the shunga, from top right par…
“First of all, we go to the East in spring time. Both color and smell, even the dark entrance gate of Daiyu (courtesan) all are gentle and elegant. Plum trees and the old fashioned cherries are blooming in profusion purple thick and wild slowenly, I would like to see them.”
“He is Itsushiyau onna who is intimate with the lady Hada wa furemai. The more they are touching each other, the harder they fall in love, and saying to each other “Sure you are not cheating on anybody. Its a silly thing.”
“You are just saying such a thing I’ve heard that recently you have been in Yuki anyway. There’s rumor goin’ around, that It’s you who are lying…I got really angry.”
“So much, Her suspicious nature that’s typical of the womanfolk. It cannot be helped it is only you who smell out and find something about the man.”
First part, from top right par
Mazu higashi wa haru iku Iro mo kahori mo Daiyu no Kurai madokuchi mo yukashiku Ume no ki mukashi nagarano Sakura hana- ki kono dozue no Sakimidareru tokoro ? no murasaki Bō-bō Shidoke narifuri toke Mitashi
Ano, Mitashi yo mou Itsushiyau onna to Hada wa furemai to Omou hodo omoi Tsumete iru kara Omahe kanarazu Uwakirashii koto wo shite Okure de nai yo Bakarashii hodo iku (?)
Nani kuchi de bakkari sonna koto wo itte Kikeba kono koro wa Yuki he bakkari irikonde Usu usu kikeba nan to uso wo tsukau sochi da Yoku hara no tatsu.
Are sa, sonna utaguri-bukai sori ya mou onna no michi wa Zehi mo nenga otoko ni bakari kagatsu chi-a omae yori hoka ni wa nai wa na.
Omitting the Genitals
The translation reveals something intriguing as the text seems to refer to a heterosexual encounter. I am almost certain that I have seen a heterosexual version (exact same design but omitting the genitals of the underlying figure!) of this design in the past. Therefore I guess that they probably left the text unchanged for this homosexual version.
*Translation with the help of Scott from The Basement Japanese Gallery