Flowers with Abundant Benefits (Hana Ikada) by Utagawa Kuniyoshi
In a previous article, we introduced to you Kuniyoshi's Hana goyomi series including all its designs and today you are going to get to know another important shunga work by the artist that goes by the title of Hana ikada (Flowers with Abundant Benefits, aka. Flower Raft).
Fig.1. Book cover of Hana ikda (Flowers with Abundant Benefits, aka. Flower Raft). (1835)
Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) is considered as one of the four leading ukiyo-e artists of the late edo period, alongside Hokusai (1760-1849), Kunisada (1786-1865) and Hiroshige (1797-1858). Whereas Kunisada and Hiroshige dominated the market for actor prints (kabuki-e) and landscape prints respectively, Kuniyoshi was renowned for his powerful depictions of legendary warriors.
He also produced numerous designs of comic subjects, and was versed at misleading the censorship regulations at the time. Like Kunisada, Kuniyoshi was also prolific in his illustrations for erotic novels, designing an estimated total of some thirty-three books over three decades.
Well known as a cat-lover, Kuniyoshi created numerous prints that feature cats or include them in the background. In his erotica, too, he included a cat washing or snoozing as its owners indulge in amorous pursuits, providing a sign of domesticity as well as a token of his own high regard for these animals. The cats so featured were most likely drawn from his own beloved pets, in particular the white Japanese Bobtail with large black spots.
Contrary to the previous comments, the cats are almost completely absent (only in this design that also appears in Hana-goyomi) in his work Hana ikada that was published in three volumes in 1836. The four-page text with which it opens and the commentaries within the pictures were supplied by Koshoku Gaishi (also known as Hanagasa Bunkyo) and Adano Sanjin (an as yet unidentified author).
The artist's name is not given explicitly, but signatures seen on screen paintings within the pictures read 'Ichimyokai Nekoyoshi', one of Kuniyoshi's favored pseudonyms for erotica. The name sounds like a genuine artist's pen name, but in fact means 'Feline-owning Cat-yoshi', attesting to his unbounded love for these animals.
The illustrations are printed with opulent colors, and the settings are richly furnished. Much of the love-making is filled with energy and urgency, the bodies straining against each other.
In Premium you can explore the complete set including all the beguiling erotic designs.
Click HERE for all the intimate brothel secrets in Kunimori II's Shunshoku Irifune Nikki series
Sources: Shunga, Erotic Art in Japan by Rosina Buckland, harashobo.com,