Utagawa Kunisada

Utagawa Kunisada. Sho-Utsushi Aioi Genji. Tokyo: ca. 1840.

Ukiyo-e color woodblock prints.

This volume is part of the last installment in artist Kunisada’s shunga (Japanese erotic art) triology of Three Genji, a tale of amorous adventures of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the third Muromachi shogun. 

Before the late seventeenth century, shuga were exclusively available to the members of the court, military and monastic classes in Japan.  In the eighteenth century, the genre gained wide popularity, which led to shuga being publically banned, although tacit approval of its production was granted by the government.  While most ukiyo-e woodcut artists secretly produced erotic prints during their careers, shunga prints are still prohibited for general publication in Japan.

Link: Article in the Japanese Architecture and Art New Users System.