This mature work amongst Utamaro’s erotic output sits alongside other masterpieces produced by him during the Kyowa era (1801-04). The preface and the pornographic stories at the end of each volume were written by the comic writer Jippensha Ikku (1765-1831), and the conversations within each picture are thought to be by Utamaro himself. The half-length portraits at the beginning and end of each group of illustrations are titled:
Volume 1 – Jobun no musume [Young woman of the upper class]; Jobun no wakashu [Young man of the upper class]
Volume 2 – untitled - courtesan; Gebon no wakashu [Young man of the lower class]
Volume 3 – Yoshicho no wakashu [Young man from Yoshi-cho]; Gebon no musume [Young woman of the lower class]
See Shugo Asano and Timothy Clark, The Passionate Art of Kitagawa Utamaro, (London, 1995), cat. 493.
Another impression is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, accession number 2008.1319.1-2.
Mizuochi Roseki was born in Osaka. He was considered to be the leader of the Osaka haiku group of the time. He studied under Masaoka Shiki, a poet, author, and literary critic in Meiji period Japan. Shiki is regarded as a major figure in the development of modern haiku poetry.