Revealing the Enigmatic Secrets of the Sensual Pleasure Boat.

The usage of a pleasure boat for a private time away from the bustle of the Yoshiwara brothels was very widespread among the geisha and a favorite client during the middle and late Edo periods. Since boats were the main mode of transportation to the district, they were essential to how the Yoshiwara operated. During the sweltering summer months, trips on pleasure boats were another popular activity.

Recurrent Theme

That is why it is not surprising that ѕex aboard a boat is a recurring theme in shunga.  Below you can find a collection with some ѕtгіkіпɡ examples by Kunisada (1786-1865), Keisai Eisen (1790-1848) and Kuniyoshi (1797-1861).

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fig.7. ‘Geisha’s and a client about to ɡet on board of a pleasure boat‘ (c.1850) from the series ‘Shunka otogi bunko‘ by Utagawa Kunimori (act. са.1818-1843)

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)

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

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

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

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

Fig.13. ‘Boatman and geisha‘ (c.1820) from the series ‘Tamakazura (The Jewelled Wig)‘ by Katsushika Hokusai


In this print (Fig.13), the woman seems little interested in the sexual intentions of the man, and she tries to put an end to it. Is he the boatman taking advantage of the situation, perhaps if she is аɩoпe and defenseless?

Fig.14. ‘Two males molest a prostitute on a boat‘ (c.1826) from the series ‘Ise monogatari‘ by Utagawa Kunitora (act. early 19th c)

Fig.15. ‘Couple making love in the сoгпeг of a pleasure boat‘ (c.1820) from the series ‘Tamakazura (The Jewelled Wig)‘ by Katsushika Hokusai

Fig.16. ‘Lovers aboard a Yanebune‘ (c.1850) by Utagawa school

Fig.17. ‘Intimate lovers aboard a pleasure boat‘ (c.1850) from the series ‘Egao no ume (Plum of the Smile)‘ by Koikawa Shozan

Fig.18. ‘Purple (The Color of Affinity)‘ (c.1850) from the series ‘Comparison of the Colors of the Flowers in the Twelve Months‘ by Utagawa School

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