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Ehon Imayō Sugata

Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769-1825)

Japanese Color Woodblock Printed Book

Ehon Imayō Sugata, Volume 1

by Utagawa Toyokuni, 1916 (orig. 1802)

Biographies of Brave and Loyal Retainers, Act 1

IHL Cat. #1311

About This Book

A 1916 re-issue of the first of two volumes of Utagawa Toyokuni's illustrated book Ehon imayō sugata (Picture Book of Modern Figures of Fashion), originally issued in 1802. Originally published by Izumiya Ichibei of the publishing firm Kansendō, this 1916 edition was issued in a larger overall format1 by the Tokyo publishing house Fūzoku emaki zuga kankōkai (Association for Publication of Genre Handscroll Illustrations), specializing in the reprinting of Edo-period illustrated books and scrolls and classic ukiyo-e prints.

During his lifetime, Toyokuni illustrated over 400 books and this work may be his masterpiece, depicting Kansei era (1789-1801) women of all classes - from aristocratic and samurai, to servants and courtesans. Published in two volumes, the first volume contains twelve double-page illustrations of women engaging in various past-times and work, dressed in period fashion appropriate to their class. The second volume, not currently part of this collection, contains twelve double-page depictions of women of the "pleasure quarters", from elite courtesans to unlicensed prostitutes. The illustrations are generally arranged in order of perceived popular status rather than by strict class order. 

Most refined (aristocrat) to least refined women (unlicensed prostitute)
left: illustration 1, volume 1
right: illustration 11, volume 2

The well-known comic author Shikitei Sanba 式亭三馬 (1766-1822), listed on the colophon as the editor (閲 - inspection and approval), authored the preface and, as it has been suggested, may have also authored the afterword which carries Toyokuni's signature.2 His embossed seal reading Shikitai in the cover's pattern, along with the Utagawa School "toshidama" seal, indicates his importance to the work.

Embossed seals on front and rear covers
left: Toshidama seal of the Utagawa School
right: seal reading Shikitei 式亭

"In the words of its author and illustrator, Utagawa Toyokuni, ‘Ehon imayō sugata is a book about women of all kinds: from women of noble birth to those of the lowest classes—from the most virtuous women to the most immoral.’ Specifically, these are Toyokuni’s depictions of the modern women of early 19th century Edo (present-day Tokyo) presented in scenes from their daily lives. The book is considered one of the artist’s most important works, designed and published at the height of his career in 1802."3

The Mysterious Blank Cartouches

In the original 1802 edition, the cartouches alongside each figure provide descriptions, but soon after the original edition, the cartouches and their descriptions were removed (cut out of the blocks), leaving blanks, as can be seen in the below comparison of the eighth drawing titled "common women - second (drawing)" in volume 1, in the original and a subsequent edition. In addition, copies of the original edition exist which have had all the cartouches overdrawn by hand as seen in the lower left image below. 

In the notes on Ehon imayō sugata appearing in Ukiyoe: Images of Unknown Japan, Hillier states, "In the first edition the cartouches alongside each figure gave the names, but soon after the first issue, for reasons that have never been established, the names were removed, leaving blanks."4 Subsequent investigation suggests that the cartouches were removed to comply with government censorship rules, although it is unclear which censorship laws were causing concern, as the Kansei Reforms, which negatively effected ukiyo-e production by banning, in 1800, "pictures detrimental to public morality" were no longer in effect by 1802, and new censorship regulations effecting the publishing industry did not take effect until 1841 under the short-lived Tempō Reforms (1841-1842).5

click on image to enlarge

1 11 15/16 x 8 5/16 (30.3 x 21.1 cm) vs. 8 1/2 x 6 in. (21.6 x 15.2 cm)
2 Shikitei Sanba (式亭 三馬) was the pen name of Kikuchi Hisanori (菊池 久徳)
3 Princeton University Library website, article by Nicole Fabricand-Person https://library.princeton.edu/news/2015-09-18/ehon-imayo-sugata-edmond-de-goncourt-collection
4 Ukiyoe: Images of Unknown Japan, ed. Lawrence Smith, British Museum Publications Ltd. 1988, p. 176
5 Princeton University Library website, article by Nicole Fabricand-Person https://library.princeton.edu/news/2015-09-18/ehon-imayo-sugata-edmond-de-goncourt-collection

The Complete Volume 1 of Ehon imayō sugata

1. All transcriptions are copied from https://www.dheq.org/honkoku/664C37CD2C009692B1170DFC4F6563C2_text.html where a complete transcription of all the text can be found.
2. Pages are shown in Japanese book order

front cover - embossed with pattern of toshidama seals of the Utagawa School and Shikitei seals of Shikitei Sanba

  序二 (preface, page 2)
opening sentences:

  序 一 (preface, page 1)
opening sentences:

right sheet (colophon from original 1802 edition):
東𨜞 Edo
inspection/approval by Shikitei Sanba
歌川豐圀著 book by Utagawa Toyokuni 
千里評判 不許押賈 copyright
畵帖時丗粧 [帖時世粧] 全二冊
Ehon imaya sugata zen ni
 司馬 甘泉堂開鐫
Shiba [Edo] Kansendō kaijuan
Sen'ichi seal (of Izumaya Ichibei)

left sheet: (commentary)
opening sentence:
signed: しき亭の翁かいふ 
(signature of Shikitei Sanba)

Samurai class women pursuing polite occupations in an elegant setting
A court lady holding a fan made of cypress
right sheet:  (preface, page 3)
preface signed: しき亭の翁さんば
(signature of Shikitei Sanba)
note following preface signed: 
門人 楽山人馬笑書
likely a pen name of Rakutei Bashō
楽亭馬笑, a disciple of Shikitei's
left sheet: (poem by Chinese poet Zhang Xian 張憲 (960-1127))
面開春月満 眉株遠山斜 
一笑既相許 何須羅扇遮

wealthy towns-women
women of the merchant class
concubines of a high-ranking man

 “Working women,” including a laundress


An office for servant placement with the entrance to a female bathhouse on the left

aristocratic women parading passing a yōjiya (楊枝屋), a shop selling toothpicks;
female servers at teahouses and archery ranges

一 (afterword cont.)
first column of text:

上ノ十三 (afterword)
signature in right column: 歌川豊国作
a work by Utagawa Toyokuni
first column of text:

上四 (afterword cont.)
first column of text:

三 (afterword cont.)
first column of text:
二 (afterword cont.)
first column of text:

七 (afterword cont.)
first column of text:

六 (afterword cont.)
first column of text:

上五 (afterword cont.)
first column of text:

rear cover - embossed with pattern of toshidama seals of the Utagawa School and Shikitei seals of Shikitei Sanba
九 (afterword final page)
complete text:
とて迷(まよ)ふべからず醜(みにく)きとて癈(すつ)る事 勿(なか)れ

絵本時世粧上之巻 尾
Ehon imayō sugata first volume - the end

 上八 (afterword cont.)
first column of text:
稽古(けいこ)としられ稽古浄瑠璃の簾(みす)御 閉帳(へいてう)のごとく

Book Details

 IHL Catalog #1311
 Title or Description Ehon Imayō Sugata, Volume 1  絵本時世粧 乾
 Picture Book of Modern Figures of Fashion (also translated as Picture Book of the Modern Forms and Figures; The Picture Book of the Custom of Women; Picture Books of Contemporary Fashion )
 Utagawa Toyokuni (1786–1865);  editor: Shikitei Sanba 式亭三馬 (1766-1822)
 歌川豊圀著 Utagawa Toyokuni cho 
 A book by Utagawa Toyokuni
 Publication Date 1916 Taishō 5 (originally 1802 享和2 Kyōwa 2)
 Publisher 風俗絵巻図画刊行会 Fūzoku emaki zuga kankōkai (originally Izumiya Ichibei)
 Impression excellent
 Colors good
 Condition good
 Miscellaneous The first of two volumes
 Genre ehon 絵本
 Format fukurotoji
 H x W Paper overall book dimensions H x W x D: 11 15/16 x 8 5/16 x 7/16 in. (30.3 x 21.1 x 1.1 cm)
 H x W Image area defined by black border of each illustration:
 6 15/16 x 5 1/4 in. (17.6 x 13.3 cm) approx.
 Collections This Book (collections holding the 1916 edition) - UC Berkeley Library Call No. 6289.2.7229 no.7; The University of British Columbia Library Call Number NE1325.U79 A63 1979; Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art FSC-GR-780.743.1-2; Stanford University Library NE1325 .U82 E55 1916 F V.2; National Diet Library Call Number 721.8-U78194e
 Reference Literature 
last revision:
7/20/2021 created