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Hokusai's Passionate View on Hōgaku

The artist Hokusai presents us a rather sensual perspective of hōgaku (Japanese musical activities), we view a sexually-aroused geisha, actively leading an admirer into the delights of love.

Female Vulva

The tableau captures the couple passionately kissing at the moment of orgasm as emphasized by the fluids still flowing from the female vulva. At right lies a plectrum, and the body of the shamisen (three-stringed musical instrument) itself, with a musical text laid over it, to form a kind of pillow cover.

tsui no hinagata

‘Hōgaku: Couple in a post-coital moment‘ (c.1812) from the series ‘Tsuhi no hinagata (Models of Loving Couples)‘ by Katsushika Hokusai


Dante’s Inferno

To aficionados of Kabuki and nagauta, the cover of the text itself is enough to divert attention from the flamboyant lovers: Takao zange no dan – a famous, early nagauta scene from the drama Nanakusa wakayagi Soga [1744], in which the ghost of the renowned Yosiwara courtesan Takao appears and recited her memories of this world, and subsequent torments in Hades (a scenario strangely reminiscent of the fair Francesca in Dante’s Inferno).

Click HERE so that you can check out the “Copulating Widow and Adopted Son” design from this series…!!

Sources: ‘The Complete Ukiyo-e ShungaHokusai and the Tsui no hinagata Shunga Album‘ (Vol.13) by Richard Lane

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