The preface attributed to the author and poet Torai Sanna (1744-1810) is both light-hearted and romantic and makes play of the alternative meaning of utamakura alluding to poetic or literary associations with well-known place names such as Hakone, Naniwa, Yoshino and others and using them to describe the pleasures of lovers. Although neither the names of the artist or the publisher are given, clues are scattered along the way: the name of the album (Utamakura) is described as "close to the name of the artist" (Utamaro) and many of the illustrations depict robes decorated with ivy leaves which allude to the name of the publisher Tsuta-ya (House of the Ivy Leaf) Juzaburo. The preface ends with another literary allusion and play on words, this time to Sei Shonagon, the 10th Century court lady who wrote Makura no soshi [The Pillow Book].
The book is described at length and illustrated in Asano Shugo and Timothy Clark, The Passionate Art of Kitagawa Utamaro, exhibition catalogue, (London and Tokyo, 1995) vol. 2, p.279 and Jack Hillier, The Art of the Japanese Book, (London, 1987), p.414-416
Another copy of this book was sold Christie's, New York, 22nd September 2005, Lot 24