The Sex Adventures of Three Castaways on the Isle of Women (P3)
5 October 2017 

The Sex Adventures of Three Castaways on the Isle of Women (P3)

Although Kunimaro relied on diverse sources as discussed in the previous articles (Part One & Two) that varied from ancient plays to foreign myth for his visual narrative, his depiction of the Island of Women’s tangible culture was inspired on the popular Ryukyu Islands.

Satsuma Lords

The Ryukyu Kingdom had been a servant of Satsuma since 1609, but it also was a subordinate of the continental Qing dynasty, and was considered a foreign state. Ryukyu sent regular tribute missions accompanying their Satsuma lords to the Tokugawa government in Edo, one of which occured in 1850 around the same time this book was published and so might have been an inspiration for it.

Fig.1. ‘Chidori makes love to Naritsune in the back while his compagnon Yasuyori makes love to another beauty of the court‘ (c.1848-54) from the series ‘A Treasure Ship Embarking at the Isle of Women (Nyogo no shima takara no irifune)

Edoites

These missions provided Edoites with a rare opportunity for exposure to a foreign culture, and consequently depictions of them were exceedingly popular.

Perfect Source

According to Kunimaro’s sources, the Island of Women was somewhere to the east of China and the west of Japan, and Ryukyu culture, with its blend of Chinese and Japanese influences, was at once both familiar and exotic, making it the perfect source of inspiration for the artist.

island of women

Fig.2. ‘The monk Shunkan making love to a female inhabituant of the Island of Women‘ (c.1848-54) from the series ‘A Treasure Ship Embarking at the Isle of Women (Nyogo no shima takara no irifune)

Chidori’s Palace

Accordingly, the interiors of Chidori’s palace are filled with distinctive Ryukyu-style lacquers, ceramics, and metalwork. The women are dressed in textiles with vaguely Chinese designs, the rooms are divided by both Chinese-and Japanese-style screens. Unusual (from a Japanese perspective) carpets adorn the floors, in one case going so far as to be decorated with pseudo-Dutch writing (Fig.3) and the chair in which Naritsune and Chidori have sex (Fig.4) is a Ryukyu variation of a Chinese prototype, covered in characteristically Ryukyuan red lacquer and fitted with a Chinese brocade silk cushion.

Fig.3. ‘Excited couple on a carpet with “Dutch” text‘ (c.1848-54) from the series ‘A Treasure Ship Embarking at the Isle of Women (Nyogo no shima takara no irifune)

While the Ryukyuan elements of Kunimaro’s illustrations provide a sufficiently exotic sense of “otherness” to his imaginative recasting of the Isle of Women, several decades earlier shunga artists already had expanded the conceptual space of their designs to include the even more alien “others” of Dutch and Chinese traders.

You can find more about the foreigners depicted in shunga when you click HERE !

island of women

Fig,4. ‘Queen Chidori making love on her luxurious chair‘ (c.1848-54) from the series ‘A Treasure Ship Embarking at the Isle of Women (Nyogo no shima takara no irifune)

Check out the video for the complete sensual journey to the Isle of Women (features all double plate designs):

Mijn film (Kunimaro - Isle)

Source: Shunga: Stages of Desire published by the Honolulu Museum

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.
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