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Revealing the Sensual Pleasure Boat Secrets

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.

Recurrent Theme

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).

pleasure boat

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

pleasure boat

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

pleasure boat

Fig.3. ‘Couple on a pleasure boat‘ (c.1822) from the series ‘A Light Spring Snow’ (Haru no usuyuki)‘ by Keisai Eisen

pleasure boat

Fig.4. Abuna-e of ‘a courtesan and a client on a pleasure boat‘ (c.1820s) by Keisai Eisen

pleasure boat

Fig.5. Oban-sized print ‘Pleasure boat fun‘ (c.1838) by Keisai Eisen

pleasure boat

Fig.6. Koban-sized print ‘Kissing couple on a pleasure boat‘ (c.1840) attributed to Kunisada

pleasure boat

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)

pleasure boat

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)

pleasure boat

Fig.9. ‘Geisha on the pier‘ (c.1837 from the series ‘Shunshoku irifune cho’ by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

pleasure boat: Noble couple making love on a boat by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Fig.10. ‘Noble couple making love on a boat‘ (c.1840) by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

pleasure boats A couple in a pleasure boat: are being spied upon by the tattooed boatman, who himself sports an erection

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

pleasure boat: utamaro's tattooed peeker

Fig.12. B&W edition of the previous Utamaro design (Fig.11)

You can discover more interesting insights on the pleasure boat secrets in Fig.3 when you click HERE…!!!

About the author
Darya

By

Darya

on 27 February 2020

Thank you for this article! By the way, Kuniyoshi's aristocratic man and woman in a boat are among my favorite shunga characters (http://www.akantiek.com/shunga/Utagawa.Kuniyoshi.c1830's.p1468.jpg). I love the depiction of water and enjoy the fact that they're sailing in winter in another piece by Kuniyoshi (http://www.akantiek.com/shunga/Utagawa.Kuniyoshi.c1830's.p1465.jpg).

Darya

By

Darya

on 27 February 2020

Thank you for this article! By the way, Kuniyoshi's aristocratic man and woman in a boat are among my favorite shunga characters (http://www.akantiek.com/shunga/Utagawa.Kuniyoshi.c1830's.p1468). I love the depiction of water and enjoy the fact that they're sailing in winter in another piece by Kuniyoshi (http://www.akantiek.com/shunga/Utagawa.Kuniyoshi.c1830's.p1465).

Darya

By

Darya

on 27 February 2020

Thank you for this article! By the way, Kuniyoshi's aristocratic man and woman in a boat are among my favorite shunga characters.

Marijn

By

Marijn

on 27 February 2020

Thanks Darya, if I am correct I have included that design with the aristocratic couple to the article (Fig.10).

Darya

By

Darya

on 28 February 2020

Yes, it's them, thank you! I also enjoy the piece that shows them sailing in winter.

Marijn

By

Marijn

on 28 February 2020

Thanks Darya, in the same series there's also a reference to one of the love-suicide stories ( I am not sure at this time which one!) and the moment they are saved...!!

Darya

By

Darya

on 28 February 2020

Thank you for the links! I've seen these designs, very enjoyable (thanks for your akantiek platform again!). Did they commit suicide when a fisherman's boat was close to the bridge because they wanted to be saved, or is it just a coincidence?.. One more piece by Kuniyoshi on the love-suicide theme. Their embrace reminds me of an amazing design by Keishu.

Marijn

By

Marijn

on 28 February 2020

Thanks Darya, I am not sure but it could be that it is not a love-suicide scene but that they jump of the bridge to escape from their pursuers, and that they are picked up by a companion. But I have to do some research about that in the future. The Kuniyoshi piece you are referring to is inspired by the same story as Kunisada's and Keishu's versions...!!

Darya

By

Darya

on 6 March 2020

Have you seen an outstanding illustration by Shuncho with a tattooed man on a roof of a pleasure boat from his 'Ehon Yamatoburi' ca. 1785?

Marijn

By

Marijn

on 6 March 2020

Yes, I know that one but I don't have a picture. That Shuncho design you mention inspired Utamaro on a design for his Chinese Brocade series (c.1803). I will indlude it shortly!

Darya

By

Darya

on 7 March 2020

By the way, this noble couple in a boat appears in another Kuniyoshi's print depicting a cup. And they're sailing in winter again! (a cup decorated with drawings of cups?)

Marijn

By

Marijn

on 7 March 2020

Thanks Darya, we also have this Kuniyoshi piece in our gallery including more info. Kuniyoshi experimented with scenes within scenes in several designs for his 'Enseki zasshi

Darya

By

Darya

on 7 March 2020

Thank you! Yes, this is very entertaining!

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