Edo: Tsutaya Jusaburo, 1823. Kitagawa Utamaro. (19), (15)pp. Likely third edition. Masterfully illustrated with fifteen prints by Kitagawa Utamaro, softly colored and finely detailed, showing insects and reptiles tucked among lush plants. Each spread is accompanied by a pair of flowing 31-syllable kyoka poems, humorously relating the sentiments of love to insects. In the preface, the compiler, Yadoya no Meshimori, relates the "origin" of the poems: he and his companions had gone down to the River Sumida one night to listen to the insects, and had engaged in a poetry-writing competition. However, Asano and Clark posit, "It is more likely that the whole project was proposed and carried out from start to finish by the publisher Tsutaya Jusaburo, himself taking the central role." A publisher's note in the back solicits kyoka submissions for three future volumes on the themes of birds, fish, and animals. (Momochidori Kyoka is on birds, and Shiohi no Tsuto is on seashells rather than fish; the volume on animals was never published.) Although this is the earliest of Utamaro's nature studies, it is by no means the least skillful. Hillier accurately describes the marriage of Utamaro's artistry with the technical precision of the printing: "the perfection of the detail, the fineness of the lines, the range of colour, the gradation of tone, the addition of mica to the wings of insects, all reach a degree of refinement that has never been excelled." This edition of the work is bound in stenciled blue covers decorated in gold with pine trees and clouds, and is missing the postscript by Toriyama Seiken. Unlike the edition with woodblock printed covers, this edition has horizontal chain lines. Examples of this edition can be found in the Rijksprentenkabinet of Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, the Kunsthalle Bremen Collection, and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Volume one has a broken string and one short worm track, professionally filled in, and both volumes show some soil and wear to the covers although the interior is bright and clean. Housed together in four-flap chitsu of green cloth with a blank gold label, hinges weak and missing one clasp. (Hillier, pp. 409-414; Ryerson, pp. 220-221; Rijksprentenkabinet Catalogue of the Collection of Japanese Prints Part II, no. 85; Kunsthalle Bremen, p. 224; Asano and Clark 463).