Hokusai Shunga Prints With Copulating Mice and Dogs (P1)
Marijn Kruijff
4 min

Hokusai Shunga Prints With Copulating Mice and Dogs (P1)

4 min

In this article we’ll take a closer look at shunga designs by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) in which he adds mice and dogs as a comic supplement.

Hokusai - Tsuhi no hingata - Shunga

Fig.1. ‘Relaxing Couple and copulating mice‘ (c.1812-14) from the series ‘Models of Loving Couples (Tsuhi no hinagata)‘ by Katsushika Hokusai

Two Black Mice

In the above design from the ‘Tsuhi no hinagata’ -series we see an intimate couple reclining after a sensual bout of love-making. The humorous touch has been added by Hokusai with the two black mice still copulating in the foreground. The cat on the left behind the couple complains that he is the only one not having any fun, and is toying with the idea of catching a mouse.

The late Shunga expert Dr. Richard Lane said the following about this design:

“As is customary with Hokusai, in one scene of the series (red. Tsuhi no hinagata) we are afforded a bref respite from the acrobatic exertions of sexual passion. Here, the lovers are seen in mid-summer, taking their own brief respite from sex: the drowsing woman, still holding gently but firmly onto her lover’s spent phallus.

And, in that adroit touch of humor and variety with which few artists but Hokusai could succeed, at bottom we view two black mice, engaged in their own love-making: doubtless, stimulated by what they have just seen of human efforts in that endeavor? (This possibility is not just a figment of my imagination: cf. Hokusai notable shunga scene involving the passionate conversation of two rutting dogs – see Fig.2).

hokusai - shunga - bestiality

Fig. 2. ‘Intimate couple on streetcorner‘ (c.1821) from the series ‘Gods of Intercourse (Manpuku Wagojin)‘ by Katsushika Hokusai

Not only that, but a pert little, belled-and-beribboned kitten looks on curiosity at left: too young either to know much of sex itself, or even, luckily, to present any real danger to the love-possessed mice. (Rarely for any shunga print, the lovers’ previous sexual acts and conversation are recorded in detail through the kitten’s eyes – presented in the form of a catish monologue).

Note: Readers interested in animal psychology may well ask if rats/mice might, indeed, be stimulated by viewing/sniffing human sexual activity. I have been unable to locate any scientific study concerning this intriguing subject, which might well constitute an excellent theme for a PH.D. dissertation (with, I should think, no shortage of unpaid volunteers).

Eisen’s memorable scene of a love-making monkey-trainer and aroused monkey comes immediately to mind (see Fig.3. and 4). And graphic evidence exists, moreover, in the work of Hokusai himself – regarding the sexual stimuli experienced by horny dogs.

Keisai Eisen - shunga - monkey trainer - horny monkey

Fig.3. ‘Horny monkey‘ (c.1817) form the series ‘Midare Gami (Hair in Disarray/Tangled hair)‘ by Keisai Eisen

hokusai shunga art

Fig.4. ’Intimate couple with horny monkey’ (c.1820) from the series ’Mitsukumi Sakazuki’ by Keisai Eisen (1790-1848).

Print depicting a baboon molesting a reluctant geisha by Keisai Eisen

Fig.5. ‘Giant baboon forcing itself on a reluctant courtesan‘ (c.1810s) by Keisai Eisen*

hokusai shunga prints

Fig.6. ‘Copulating couple observed by a cat‘ (c.1910s) by an unidentified artist

Shunga with sleeping couple and horny dog by Keisai Eisen

Fig.7. ‘Sleeping couple and dog‘ (c.1820s) attributed to Keisai Eisen

Horny Dog

It’s very likely that the above koban print by Eisen (Fig.7) was inspired by Hokusai’s design from ‘Models of Loving Couples‘ (Fig.1). After an insatiable bout of love-making a nude couple is reclining while a horny dog (his tongue hanging out) is focused on the private parts of the female.

'Aroused female watching two copulating cats. In the background stands a stone water basin with a wooden scoop lying on top of it' (c.1765) from the series ‘Ehon haru no yume’ by Kikukawa Hidenobu

Fig.8. ‘Aroused female watching two copulating cats. In the background stands a stone water basin with a wooden scoop lying on top of it‘ (c.1765) from the series ‘Ehon haru no yume‘ by Kikukawa Hidenobu (Source: ‘Сюнга. Откровенное искусство Японии / Shunga. Explicit art of Japan‘, 2016. Authors: A. E. Pushakova, K. G. Danelya) **

Fig.9. ‘Sleeping beauty and curious cat‘ ( c.1790s) from the series ‘Ehon Yamato kotoba‘ attributed to Chōkōsai Eishō (Source: Shunga. Explicit art of Japan‘, 2016. Authors: A. E. Pushakova, K. G. Danelya) **

More of this in part 2 in which we’ll examine more erotic designs by Hokusai featuring copulating dogs from ‘The Horny God of Izumo‘ –series!

Source: ‘The Complete Ukiyo-e Shunga (Ukiyo-e Shunga Meihin Shusei): Tsuhi no hinagata‘ (Vol.13) by Richard Lane

*Fig.5 displays an oban-sized design which Eisen made in reaction to Hokusai’s iconic ‘The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife‘. Although he has not quite succeeded in doing this (it is quite unknown and rare) it does immediately attract our attention. The giant ape, filling two-thirds of the image area, is caressing the private area of the woman before penetrating her with its winding genitals. She fights him with all her strength, but has no chance.
** Photo’s provided by Darya