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The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife and Its Crazy Dialogue

The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife and Its Crazy Dialogue

The previous translations published on the internet of one of the most coveted erotic prints called ‘The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife‘ (蛸と海女) were not completely accurate. Below you can find the definitive translation and more background info on this shunga masterpiece…

the dream of the fisherman´s wife

Fig.1. ‘The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife (c.1814)’ from the series ‘Young Pine Saplings (Kinoe no komatsu)‘ by Katsushika Hokusai (Sold)

Hokusai‘s ‘The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife‘ became one of the most celebrated of all Japanese erotic prints partly by Edmond de Goncourt who wrote in his influential book ‘Hokousai‘:

“In these albums we find this frightful image: on rocks green with seaweed lies a naked body of a woman, swooning with rapture, sicut cadaver, such that we know not if she is alive or has drowned, and an immense octopus, its dreadful pupils the shape of black quarter-moons, sucks her nether regions, while a smaller octopus greedily feasts upon her mouth.”

The Most Complete Translation of the Text:

Octopus: “Wondering when to do the abduction, but today is the day. At least she’s captured. Even so, this is a plump, good pussy. A greater delicacy than even a potato. Saa, saa, sucking to complete satisfaction, then take her to be imprisoned  in the Dragons King Palace.

Sounds: “Zuu, zubu, zubu, chu!, chu! chu! Zuu, zuu! Fu, fu, fu, fu!

Diver: “This hateful octopus, fu, fu, fu, fu…rather, aa, aa..sucking on the surface of the inner mouth of my womb until I’m breathless, aa, eee, I’m coming! By that projecting mouth. By that projecting mouth the open vagina is teased. Oh! Oh! Are, are… What to do? Aa, yoo, oo, oo, oo, ooo, aaree, oo, oo good, oo, good, good, good, haa, aa, good, good, haa, good, fu, fu, fuu, fuu. Again! Yoo, yoo, yoo, yoo. Until now, although people have called me aa, fu, fu, fu, fuu, fuu, fuu…Octopus! Oo, fu, fuu, fuu. Why, why? Ee, ee, this, yo, yo, yo, saadeha, aa, aa, aa!

Sounds: “Zuu, zuu, zuu, zuu, hicha, hicha, gucha, gucha, pichchu, chu, chu, chu, guu, guu, zuu, zuu.

Octopus: “Say! How about the feelings of being entwined by eight legs?”

Commentary: “Juices are flowing like hot water. Nura, nura, nura, doku, doku, doku.”

Diver: “Ee, moo. I’m becoming ticklish, zo, zo…One after another until I lose track, fu, fu, fuu, fuu, limits and boundaries are gone oo, oo, oo, I’ve arrived, aa, aa, are, are, there, there, uu, mu, mu, mu, fumu, fumu, uuu, I’m coming! I’m coming!

Small octopus: “After my parent is finished, I too will use my projecting mouth to rub from her clitoris to her ass until [she] loses conciousness, and then I’ll do it again, chu, chu.”

hokusai octopus

Fig.2. ‘Octopus and ama diver‘ (c.1781) from the series ‘Yokyoku iro bangumi (Programme of Erotic Noh Plays)‘ by Kitao Shigemasa

Far-fetched Fantasy

In the catalogue of the British Museum Hayakawa Monta (professor at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies) comments on “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife” the following:

“This is the shunga image by Hokusai that has always fascinated people the most. Dragging a diving woman into a cleft between two rocks a large octopus is taking its pleasure, using almost all of its eight legs to coil around and play with her arms, legs and nipple.

A second, smaller octopus simultaneously ‘kisses’ her on the mouth. For all that this is an image of far-fetched fantasy, with its powerfully volumetric forms and brilliant colouring, it nonetheless gives the vivid sensation that we are direct witnesses of the scene, as the tentacles seem to slither and writhe before our gaze.

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Fig.3. The print that inspired Hokusai “Octopus” design entitled ‘Diver and Octopuses‘ (c.1786) from the series ‘Picture Book: Lust of Many Women on One Thousand Nights (Ehon chiyo-dameshi)‘ by Katsukawa Shuncho (act. ca. 1783 to 1795)

Corpse

The diving woman who gives up her body for the octopus to have its way may at first appear ‘lifeless, like a corpse’ (as Edmond de Goncourt wrote); but in fact she has all but lost conciousness with the pleasure that the creature is giving her. This is abundantly clear from her arched back, her tight grip on the tentacles, and her long sighs, cries and exclamations that fill the dialogue text surrounding them.

Abalone diver - shunsho - abuna-e

Fig.4. ‘Octopus and ama (abalone) diver‘ (c.1773) by Katsukawa Shunsho

Diver Who Stole a Jewel

[…] The idea for the pairing of octopus and diving woman was not original to Hokusai. Some thirty years earlier the artist Kitao Shigemasa (1739-1820) drew a similar combination (see Fig.2.) in his erotic book ‘Yokyoku iro bangumi (Programme of Erotic Noh Plays)’, where the context was the ancient Taishokan tale of the diver who stole a jewel from the Dragon King’s Palace at the bottom of the sea.

Hokusai’s fellow pupil in the Katsukawa school, Katsukawa Shuncho, also depicted a diving woman having sex with an octopus (see Fig.3.) among rocks on the shore in ‘Ehon chiyo-dameshi (Erotic Book: Lusts of Many Women on One Thousand Nights)‘ of 1786.

Even before that, Suzuki Harunobu (d. 1770) and Katsukawa Shunsho (d. 1792; Fig.4.) had both designed so-called ‘risqué pictures’ (abuna-e) – images that titillating but not explicit – on the theme.”

The dream of the Fisherman's Wife - Hokusai - Edo Porn

Still photo of the film ‘Edo Porn‘ (1981)

Movie clip of ‘The Octopus scene‘ from ‘Hokusai Manga (aka. Edo Porn)‘, 1981. Directed by Kaneto Shindô.

Click here for a translation of Hokusai’s “Horny Widow” shunga design!

The following exciting video features some other interesting designs on the Octopus theme:

Mijn film 2 (Octopuses)

After its release Hokusai’s famous ama diver design has inspired many artists over time. Below you can find some exciting examples:

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Ama‘ (2016) by the Taiwanese/American artist James Jean (1979)

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Animalz #7‘ by Giuseppe Petrilli (1970)

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Illustration from the magazine Mayfair‘s 1975 edition by Angus McBride

the dream of the fisherman's wife

The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife‘ by seriykotik1970

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Gay variation by the Japanese artist Naomichi Okutsu (title and date unknown)

the dream of the fisherman's wife

The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife‘ by Lisa Riordon

the dream of the fisherman's wife

At the beach a giant octopus is performing cunnilingus on an ama diver ‘ (c.1860) by a member of the Utagawa school

the dream of the fisherman's wife

The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife Print‘ by Mike Dorsey Tattoo

the dream of the fisherman's wife

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Segment from the acclaimed animation movie ‘La Petitie Mort (The Little Death)‘ by Carla Veldman and Jennifer Linton (1968)

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Yuji Moriguchi

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Cartoon ‘The Dream of the Fisherman’s Daughter‘ by Tenugui

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Yuji Moriguchi

the dream of the fisherman's wife

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Ama divers and octopuses‘ (c.1880) by Toyohara Chikanobu (1838-1912)

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Tamatori-hime being pursued through the waves by the Dragon King and his retainers and a giant octopus‘ (c.1848) from the series ‘Shizu no ama otome Daishokan‘ by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861)

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Dream state’  (2009) by Fabio Barboni

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Octopus and shell diver‘ (c.1870s) by Kobayashi Eitaku (1843-1890)

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Octopus with phallus tentacles

fernando bellver

Octopus and two females‘ by Fernando Bellver (1954)

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Painting by Tristan Elwell

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Figurine displaying an interpretation of ‘The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife (with Hokusai’s The Great Wave in the background)’ by Adam Salacious Rib

the dream of the fisherman's wife

the dream of the fisherman's wife

The Unknown Five (cover of Weird Tales) depicting a ‘Mutated octopus attacking woman‘ (2009) by Rowena Morrill

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Surrealistic painting by Daria Petrilli (1970)

the dream of the fisherman's wife

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Image by Somefield

the dream of the fisherman's wie

A female abalone diver wrestling with an octopus‘ (c.1870s) by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Another gay variation by an unknown artist

the dream of the fisherman´s wife

‘Octopus making love to a mermaid’ (c.1830) attrib. to Keisai Eisen (1790-1848)

the dream of the fisherman'wife

Octopus drawing by Somefield

The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife

Octopuses and women‘ from the book ‘Human Nature‘ (2010) by Daikichi Amano

The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife

The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife‘ by Michael Cottage

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Erotic novella ‘The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife: Triptych 2‘ by Krissy Kneen

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Triple Attack Hokusai XL 008‘  (2008) by Ernesto Jorge Ferriol Perez

the dream of the fisherman´s wife

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Octopus girl‘ from the book ‘Human Nature‘ (2010) by Daikichi Amano

the dream of the fisherman's wife

The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife Print‘ by Mike Dorsey Tattoo

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Silkscreen print ‘A Perfect Lover, a woman and an octopus on the beach (after Hokusai)‘ (1997) by Joost Veerkamp

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Hokusai exposed (Re-Create)‘ (2013)

s-l1600he dream of the fisherman's wife

Oil on canvas ‘The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife‘ (2016) by Elly Smallwood

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Female surfer and octopus‘ by Andy Fairhurst

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Painting. Ink and color on silk ‘Octopus And Ama Diver‘ (c.1900) by an unknown Meiji artist

the dream of the fisherman´s wife

Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife’(2004) by Judith Schaechter

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Girl with octopus‘ by Daikichi Amano – From the book ‘Human Nature’  (2010)

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Woodblock print ‘The Octopus’s Wife‘ (2012) by Sergio Teran

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Intimate octopus and ama diver in the surf‘ (late 1810s) by a pupil of Hokusai

the dream of the fisherman's wife

3D version of ‘The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife‘ on Widewalls.ch

the dream of the fisherman's wife

the dream of the fisherman´s wife

Adriano de Vinsentiis

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Koban sized print featuring ‘Octopus wearing a head-scarf copulating with an ama diver‘ (c.1855) from the series: ‘Shunkyo karami-dako (Spring Games: Grappling Octopus)‘ by Utagawa Kunisada II (1823-1880)

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Shunga painting after Kunisada II with ‘Octopus and ama diver‘ (c.1860)

the dream of the fisherman's wife

The Fisherman’s Wife‘ by Hiten Damodar

the dream of the fisherman´s wife

Painted by Rebecca Leveille-Guay

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Tattoo design by Jimmy Gobeil

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Hentai image featuring tentacle sex

the dream of the fisherman´s wife

Cover for a soundtrack of a manga movie

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Octopus‘ (1994) by Hajime Sorayama

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Interpretation of Hokusai’s design (2008) by the Australian comic book artist Ashley Wood

the dream of the fisherman´s wife

Japanese shunga painting inspired by Hokusai’s octopus design (mid 19th century)

the dream of the fisherman´s wife

the dream of the fisherman´s wife

Drawing by Picasso

the dream of the fisherman´s wife

the dream of the fisherman´s wife

Octopus‘ by Kojima Ayami

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Octopus assaulting boatsman‘ (c.1847) from an important album of 26 original sumi shijo-style drawings by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) (Richard Kruml)

the dream of the fisherman´s wife

Harpoon girl ‘ by Serge Birault

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Girl and octopus‘ (2016) by the photographer Kazan Yamamoto

the dream of the fisherman's wife

Sarah and the Octopus/ Seventh Heaven‘ (2002) by Masami Teraoka

the dream of the fisherman´s wife

Sculpture by Mushibuchi

the dream of the fisherman´s wife

Amusing Japanese commercial from the 1980s targeting housewives:

Sources: ‘Erotic Japonisme, the Influence of Japanese Sexual Imagery on Western Art‘ by Ricard Bru.
Shunga, Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art‘ (Edited by Timothy Clark, C. Andrew Gerstle…etc.)

Do you also share the fascination for Hokusai’s ‘The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife’ image?

Comment Section

4 thoughts on “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife and Its Crazy Dialogue


By Sebastien B. on 11 June 2018

Exceptionnal!…So much researches, and very good findings!Amazing Picasso picture, never seen before!Really Congratuations to You,
Marijk


By Peter on 11 June 2018

I like the presentation of Bellver.Its elegant


By Stephen on 11 June 2018

See also, Museu Picasso de Barcelona, “Secret Images: Picasso and the Japanese Erotic Print” (2010) and Danielle Talerico, “Intepreting Sexual Imagery in Japanese Prints: A Fresh Approach to Holusai’s ‘Diver and Two Octopi'” (Impressions, #23, 2001).


By Marijn on 28 June 2018

Thanks a lot for your comments Sebastien, Peter and Stephen. Very much appreciated…!!!

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