A Reclining Couple, Copulating Mice and an Amused Kitten
This is the fourth plate of Hokusai‘s Tsui no hinagata series and shows us a change in pace in comparison with the previous plates. Two lovers are dozing on a summer’s day. The woman has placed tissues in her vulva, and the closed eyes and limp hands suggest the bliss of relaxation after sexual passion.
Her partner embraces her round the waist, and though she is turned away from him, she gently holds his penis.
Two mice mating in the foreground provide a touch of humour, making the sounds: ‘Chuu, chuu, chuu’ as their love-making goes to a climax. The commentary above relfects the outlook of the demure-looking kitten sitting to one side, who remarks on how entertaining the scene is.
Cat: “Oh, I don’t feel so good. The master is going to do it again! Say, maybe I’ll catch a mouse or two. Oh! No! The mice are doing it too! I suppose I should be a good sport and let them have fun. Oh, what a bore all of this is.”
On the woman’s fan is a comic verse reinforcing the couple’s self-satisfaction. It reads ‘Benkei and Komachi were fools, ha ha’, referring to the legend that both the warrior Musashibo Benkei (1155-89) and the poetess Ono no Komachi (c.825-900) rejected any sort of sexual relations throughout their lives.
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Source: ‘Shunga, Erotic Art in Japan‘ by Rosina Buckland