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…
“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.”
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 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.
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.”
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:
After its release Hokusai’s famous ama diver design has inspired many artists over time. Below you can find some exciting examples:
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? What is your favorite artwork from this article?