Hokusai's Passionate View on Hōgaku
10 februari 2019 
1 min. read

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

About the author
Marijn is the founder of shungagallery.com. With more than 20 years of experience within the sensual and erotic art of shunga he is an authority in the genre. During this time he served many customers with complementing their art collection.
Darya
By

Darya

on 24 Feb 2020

The lesser feet are displayed in the picture the more difficult is to define whether it's Hokusai or early Eisen.

Marijn
Darya
By

Darya

on 25 Feb 2020

Dear Marijn, in your previous letter about the difference between Hokusai and Eisen you’ve said that Hokusai depicted toes in his special ‘pointy’ style. But the funniest thing is that Eisen used this feature too. In the first picture (‘Makura bunko’, 1822), which I haven’t found on your akantiek.com website, toes are typical for Hokusai, but the undergarment isn’t drawn in his style and facial features differ from ones of Hokusai’s characters. In the second picture (‘Enpon mime kurabe’, 1822) we can see the crumpled undergarment and the geisha’s foot, that is drawn close to Hokusai, but man’s (reaper’s?) foot is depicted not in Hokusai’s manner. In the third picture (‘Koi-no kaname’, 1827) there is a remarkable hommage to Hokusai that can be seen in lying woman’s pointy foot (one in the background) and pointy hand, while the foot that’s in the foreground is depicted less closely to Hokusai. However their facial features are Hokusai-like. So Eisen could fully imitate Hokusai’s style, but he preferred to mix his own style with some features of his inspirer. Maybe it was a way to pay respect to a great master. -- Best wishes, Darya

Marijn
By

Marijn

on 25 Feb 2020

Thanks Darya. Yes, you are correct about Eisen mimicking Hokusai's 'http://www.akantiek.com/Shunga/p2370.Keisai-Eisen.jpg" rel="nofollow">pointy feet' but when we study the series Makura bunko closer and check out http://www.akantiek.com/Shunga/p2368.Keisai-Eisen.jpg" rel="nofollow">the other designs from the series we come across illustrations that are typically Eisen I have seen it in other" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">https://shungagallery.com/keisai-eisen-shunga-design-of-dutch-couple/">other books by Eisen too (picture is not sharp but if you look closely you can distinguish her pointy foot). When I bought this print 15 years ago, at first I thought it was by Hokusai but when I saw other designs from the series http://www.akantiek.nl/p1961-p1968.Keisai-Eisen.htm" rel="nofollow">Midare gami (1815-17). I knew this particular design was an ode to his mentor.Again, thanks for your interesting remarks!

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