During the middle and late Edo period, the use of a pleasure boat was pretty common among the geisha and a favored client, for a private moment, away from the hectic of the Yoshiwara brothels. Boats played a crucial role in the workings of the Yoshiwara, as they were the primary means of transport to the district. Trips on pleasure boats were also a favorite pastime during the hot summer months.
That is why it is not surprising that sex aboard a boat is a recurring theme in shunga. Below you can find a collection with some striking examples by Kunisada (1786-1865), Keisai Eisen (1790-1848) and Kuniyoshi (1797-1861).
Fig.1. ‘Getting ready for intercourse on a pleasure boat‘ (c.1827) from the series ‘Shunka shuto shiki no nagame’ (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter: Prospects for the Four Seasons)‘ by Utagawa Kunisada
Fig.2. ‘Geisha On the Sumida River (Sumidagawa Yoseru no Geisha)‘ (c.1825) from the series ‘Grass On the Way Of Love (Koi no Michikusa)‘ by Keisai Eisen
Fig.3. ‘Couple on a pleasure boat‘ (c.1822) from the series ‘A Light Spring Snow’ (Haru no usuyuki)‘ by Keisai Eisen
Fig.4. Abuna-e of ‘a courtesan and a client on a pleasure boat‘ (c.1820s) by Keisai Eisen
Fig.5. Oban-sized print ‘Pleasure boat fun‘ (c.1838) by Keisai Eisen
Fig.6. Koban-sized print ‘Kissing couple on a pleasure boat‘ (c.1840) attributed to Kunisada
Fig.7. ‘Geisha’s and a client about to get on board of a pleasure boat‘ (c.1850) from the series ‘Shunka otogi bunko‘ by Utagawa Kunimori (act. ca.1818-1843)
Fig.8. ‘Geisha on a pleasure boat washing one of her feet‘ (c.1855) from the series ‘Nezamedoko ikuyo no mutsugoto‘ by Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865)
Fig.9. ‘Geisha on the pier‘ (c.1837 from the series ‘Shunshoku irifune cho’ by Utagawa Kuniyoshi
Fig.10. ‘Noble couple making love on a boat‘ (c.1840) by Utagawa Kuniyoshi
Fig.11. ‘A couple in a pleasure boat are being spied upon by the tattooed boatman, who himself sports an erection‘ (c.1802) from the series ‘Ehon karanishiki (Picture-book of Chinese Brocade)‘ by Kitagawa Utamaro
Fig.12. B&W edition of the previous Utamaro design (Fig.11)
Fig.13. ‘Boatman and geisha‘ (c.1820) from the series ‘Tamakazura (The Jewelled Wig)‘ by Katsushika Hokusai
In this print (Fig.13), the woman seems little interested in the sexual intentions of the man, and she tries to put an end to it. Is he the boatman taking advantage of the situation, perhaps if she is alone and defenseless?
Fig.14. ‘Two males molest a prostitute on a boat‘ (c.1826) from the series ‘Ise monogatari‘ by Utagawa Kunitora (act. early 19th c)
Fig.15. ‘Couple making love in the corner of a pleasure boat‘ (c.1820) from the series ‘Tamakazura (The Jewelled Wig)‘ by Katsushika Hokusai
Fig.16. ‘Lovers aboard a Yanebune‘ (c.1850) by Utagawa school
Fig.17. ‘Intimate lovers aboard a pleasure boat‘ (c.1850) from the series ‘Egao no ume (Plum of the Smile)‘ by Koikawa Shozan
Fig.18. ‘Purple (The Color of Affinity)‘ (c.1850) from the series ‘Comparison of the Colors of the Flowers in the Twelve Months‘ by Utagawa School
You can discover more interesting insights on the pleasure boat secrets in Fig.3 when you click HERE…!!!
What is your favorite theme within shunga? Leave your reaction in the comment box below…!!