Itoh Keijirō: ”A selection of representative seme scenes that appear in novels” (1953)

cover-chikusui 

Itoh Keijirō: 小説に現れた責の代表作選

(”A selection of representative seme scenes that appear in novels”) (Suikōdo 粹古堂1953)

I have always been fascinated by the poetic and fantasy aspects of Kinbaku, and recently obtained a book that opened a door onto some of the Edo-era literature that may well have inspired some of the pioneers in the development of Kinbaku. The book was written by a man named Itoh Keijirō. He is not a relative of Seiu, despite having the same last name, yet he and Seiu were very closely connected.

I had previously seen the following statement by Seiu (in a preface to a book with his photos [LINK]):

”It would seem that I’ve felt beautiful feelings looking at scenes of women in torment since June of 1891, when, as a ten-year-old boy, I listened to the Chiyohime snow-torment stories my mother told me. I imagined them vividly, and I now realize that I continued to fantasize about scenes of women’s torment every time it snowed. I would say that these things are a great joy for me.”

So you can imagine that it was very interesting for me to find a reference to Chiyohime in this new-to-me book (See Text #4 below). I am very curious about such literary stories of ”torment,” and how they have influenced our imagination when doing Kinbaku.

I owe this post to a friend in Tokyo, Alice Liddell, who not only brought this book to my attention but also helped me obtain a copy and did some translation of it. Thank you, Alice! She explains that Itoh Keijirō  (伊藤敬次郎, 1884–1965) was the real name of Itoh Chikusui (伊藤竹酔), the publisher of many of Itoh Seiu’s works released by his publishing house Suikōdo. Under a different company name (Chikusui Shobo), he also published works by important figures in the ”Ero Guro”-movement of the 1920s and 30s, including works on sexual perversion. He was jailed at least once for publishing improper material, and seems to have been traumatized by the experience, because after that he chose to avoid publishing illegal material. He is mentioned in Nureki Chimuo’s book Nihon Kinbaku Shashin-shi [LINK], for having sold a very large collection of photographs (taken at a satsuei-kai, or private meetings organized for the purpose of taking photographs) to Nureki and Minomura Kou, which were later published in Uramado magazine. He is also mentioned in Nureki’s bunko book, Kitan Kurabu to Sono Shuhen [LINK]. Nureki donated many of these photographs to the SM Library in Tokyo, which held a small exhibition of them in 2009 [LINK].

Here follows a summary of Itoh Keijirō’s foreword in the book, translated for us into English:

”In the early years of the Showa period, when [novelist and playwright] Tamura Nishio was running a restaurant in the Kanda area, there was a gathering one day, which I attended. It was there that I first met Seiu Sensei, and perhaps we hit it off, because I later published [Itoh Seiu’s books] 美人乱舞 (Bijin Ranmai) and  女三十六景  (Josanjū roku kei) and other of his works. After that, because of the war, I was not in contact with him for a long period, but recently I came to publish some more of his works, and as a result, everyone now seems to think of me a publisher of seme material. Subsequently, many people asked me to collect seme scenes from literature. Starting two or three years ago, without telling anyone, I collected various novels together, and woke early in the morning to read before work. I had to read the works from start to finish, which is no simple task when you are talking about old literature. I was incredibly happy when I was finally able to get a copy of 千代嚢媛七変化物語 (Chiyō-hime shichihengen monogatari) which I had searched for unsuccessfully for many years. This anthology of mine contains excerpts mostly from Edo-era novels from the Bunka years [January 1804 to April 1818], but when I had a little extra time, I extended my effort to include works of later times as well. In my research, I relied heavily on the E-iri bunko絵入文庫 [illustrated anthology series] published in Taisho 6 (1924). Some of the illustrations I’ve used are from different years, but I added them for reference.”

The book has printed inside 非買品 (not for sale), meaning it was not offered for sale as a commercial product. Perhaps the author only shared copies with interested friends? Or wished to avoid problems with the authorities?

To conclude this post, I share basic information for the thirteen texts and the eight illustrations chosen by the author, Itoh Keijirō. In general, he only states the book title and the author’s name, and sometimes the illustrator. In most cases, he did not provide more bibliographical information – all this has been added by Alice Liddell.

*

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Text #1: 優雲華物語, Udonge Monogatari, ”Tale of the Three-Thousand Year Flower” (1804), translated into English 1986 by Donald M. Richardson

Summary of scene described in the text: On Kurokami-yama (Black Hair Mountain), a female demon kills a pregnant woman and steals the unborn baby from her womb.

Author: 山東京博 (Santō Kyōden, late Edo novelist and ukiyo-e printmaker, 1761–1816)

Illustrator: 喜多武清 (Kita Busei, late Edo period painter, 1776–1858)

Description of illustration:

Two figures, a man and a woman (demon), near the body of a woman who has been stabbed with a sword and had her belly cut open.

img_3776

Text #2: 椿説弓張月, Chinsetsu yumi hari zuki (1807–11), ”The Crescent Moon”. This novel was adapted for the ”new” Kabuki as Chinzei Yumiharizuki by Mishima Yukio, and first performed in 1969. There are ukiyo-e prints based on this story, including versions by Utagawa Kuniyoshi and Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Summary of scene described in the text: The character Butota is tortured and killed with bamboo needles by Princess Shiranui, or a demon who has occupied her body.

Author: 曲亭 馬琴(Kyokutei Bakin, real name Takizawa Okikuni, 1767–1848)

Illustrator: 葛飾 北斎 (Katsushika Hokusai, 1760–1849)

Description of illustration: A bleeding figure seated and tied to a post, being beaten by three women while four other women watch. The heads of two men are on a table in front of the watching women.

Text#3: 桜姫全伝曙草紙 , Sakura-hime zenden akebono sōshi (1805),”Complete Tales of the Cherry Blossom Princess: The Akebono Books”

Summary of scene described in the text: Sakura-hime (Cherry Blossom Princess) is killed and her body is taken away to a place called Toribeya. There, her corpse is cut open by a man named Seigen. (This story has been the basis for kabuki plays.)

Author: 山東京博 (Santō Kyōden, late Edo novelist and ukiyo-e printmaker, 1761–1816)

No illustration.

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Text #4: 千代嚢媛七変化物語, Chiyonōhime shichihenge monogatari (1809), ”Tales of Princess Chiyo”

Several different scenes are described, including one involving torture by fire and another in which someone is burned to death. This seems to be a revenge story involving the Satomi family.

Author: 振鷺亭 (Shinrotei, real name 猪狩貞居, Ikari Teikyo, date of birth unknown, died 1815)

Illustrator: 蹄斎北馬 Teisai Hokuba (Edo period illustrator, 1777–1844.)

Two illustrations: The first one is hard to see what is happening – possibly a man raping a woman? The second one: A woman tied up inside a temple, with a rope attached to a stone post. A man stands over her with two swords. Nearby, a man, perhaps her servant, is tied up with rope around his neck attached to a stone post.

Text #5: 浮牡丹全伝 Ukibotan zenden, ”Tales of the Floating Peony” (1809)

Summary of scene described in the text: A woman is starved by being denied food. This seme gets a note by Itoh Keijirō indicating that it is okite-seme 掟て責 , a legally sanctioned punishment.

Author: 山東京博 (Santō Kyōden, late Edo novelist and ukiyoe printmaker, 1761–1816)

No illustration.

Text #6: 本朝酔菩提, Honchō suibotai (1809)

Summary of scene described in the text: The sisters Kurenai and Midori are tortured by a bad woman.

Author: 山東京博 (Santō Kyōden, late Edo novelist and ukiyo-e printmaker, 1761–1816)

No illustration.

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Text #7: 長柄長者黄鳥墳, Nagarachōjya uguisuzuka

Summary of scene described in the text: A man named named Kanpudaijin (?) kills a woman named Umegaeda (?).

Author: 栗杖亭 鬼卵 (Ritsujotei Kiran, 1744–1823)

Illustrator one: 石田玉山 Ishida Gyousan.

Illustrator two: 大蘓芳年Taiso Yoshitoshi.

Two illustrations:

The first, by Ishida, shows a woman held roughly by the hair by a man as a woman with a pipe watches on.

The second, by Yoshitoshi, shows a woman pinned down by a man with a knife at her throat.

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Text #8: 絲桜春蝶奇談, Itozakura shūnchō kien (1809?)

Summary of scene described in the text: A character is captured and tortured by being bound and suspended.

Author: 曲亭 馬琴(Kyokutei Bakin, real name Takizawa Okikuni, 1767-1848)

Illustrator: 歌川 豊清 (Utagawa Toyokiyo, 1799–1820)

Description of illustration: A woman bound and suspended from a pine tree. Inside the house, a man fights with four other men.

Text #9: 血血郷談 , Beibei Kyōdan, ”Talk in Rural Dialect” (1813)

Author: 曲亭 馬琴(Kyokutei Bakin, real name Takizawa Okikuni, 1767–1848)

Summary of scene described in the text: A rape scene.

No illustration.

Text #10: 南総里見八犬伝, Minami Sōrimi Hakken-den, ”The Legend of the Eight Dog Samurai” (1814–1842) The tragic romance of a princess and the adventure of eight heroic samurai. Probably the most famous novel of the late Edo period.

Summary of scene described in the text: An adulteress is tortured.

Author: 曲亭 馬琴(Kyokutei Bakin, real name Takizawa Okikuni, 1767–1848)

No illustration.

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Text #11: 片輪車, Katawa-guruma, ”The Broken Wheel”

Summary of scene described in the text: A jealous woman tortures another woman by starving her and denying her food.

Author: 洛陽山人 Rakuyo ? (At the end of this section, Chikusui explains that he found this story in a story-book published in Meiji 22 (1889) but he could not establish who the author was.)

Illustrator: 梅蝶楼国(貞) = 歌川 国貞 (Utagawa Kunisada, 1823–1880 or 三代豊国 third Toyokuni)

Description of illustration: A starving woman is placed tied up in front of food she cannot eat.

Text #12: 山椒大夫, Sanshō Dayū, ”Sansho the Bailiff” (1915). A historical novel set in the Heian period. It follows two aristocratic children who are sold into slavery after their father, a virtuous governor, is banished and their mother sold to a brothel.

Summary of scene described in the text: Slaves are branded with an iron.

Author: 森鴎外 (Mori Ōgai, 1862–1922)

No illustration.

Text #13: 風流線 , Furyusen (?), ”Elegant Line”(?), (1902?)

Author: 泉鏡花 (Izumi Kyōka, 1873–1939)

Summary of scene described in the text: Someone is put into a prison room in the bottom of a place called the Floating Castle.

No illustration.

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