Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国)

Print: Dietary Life Rules (Inshoku yōjō kagami - 飲食養生鑑)

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Dates: created,1850s
Dimensions: 14.75 in,20.25 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print

Related links: Waseda University; University of California, San Francisco Library; Lyon Collection - a related 20th century lithograph;

Physical description:

Dietary Life Rules (Inshoku yōjō kagami) explains ill effects of intemperance & functions of organs

Following is the abstract in English of a scholarly paper published in Japanese by Etsuo Shirasugi in 2006: "There are two ukiyoe, Japanese woodblock prints, presumed to have been produced around 1850 by the artist Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1864), or possibly, an understudy at his shop. One of the two ukiyoe, titled Inshoku yojo kagami (Rules of Dietary Life) shows a man drinking sake, holding a goblet in his hand. The other, titled Boji yojo kagami (Rules of Sexual Life) shows a woman, apparently a courtesan, holding a tobacco pipe to her mouth. These prints give a good picture of the images of the inside of human body, which were widely accepted among the common people after the end of the seventeenth century in the Edo period, because ukiyoe was a popular art produced by the common people in the Edo period, and the market for ukiyoe prints was primarily the general populace of the cities. The contrivance of the two Rules of Life prints lies in their fusion of two formats. One is the format of see-through body displaying the internal organs. The other is that of explaining the functions of the various internal organs in the form of familiar scenes from the living space of cities and households. Miniature sketches of people at work can be seen in them, performing the tasks believed to be that of each organ. By observing the work being carried out by the people, one could understand the organ's function. The purpose of the two annotated prints is explained in the notes as twofold. One was to educate viewers about the functions of the five viscera and six entrails, i.e., the principal inner organs in the traditional East Asian conception of the body. The other was to admonish them against excessive eating, drinking and sexual intercourse."


1) The Male Journey in Japanese Prints, by Roger Keyes, University of California Press, 1989 page 142-3. Listed there as by an unidentified artist.

2) Daruma Magazine, No. 68. (translation of text in English)


There is another copy of this print at the Ajinomoto Foundation For Dietary Culture.


The University of California San Francisco copy is also accompanied by the printed envelope it came in. That would explain the multiple folds found on this example in the Lyon Collection. It would have always looked like this, except fresher, of course.