When Japan opened its doors during the Meiji period (1868-1912) and allowed foreigners to enter the country profound changes and innovations came with them. This was particularly noticeable in the artistic styles, clothes, machines, vehicles and trains, weapons, electricity, etc., that all found their way into the art of shunga.
Army Officers and Doctors
The most obvious features were the influence of Western artistic styles, the use of imported bright chemical colors and the chromolitograph technique (Kogyo’s specialty), that replaced the soft, natural colors of the Edo period. The men depicted were no longer samurai or kabuki actors, but army officers or doctors. The courtesans were often replaced by hospital nurses and educated women from good, well-off homes.
Mustaches and Beards
Another clear innovation is in the styles of clothing. The depicted people are still clothed, with the women often still wearing the traditional kimono (sometimes with Western ornaments), but men can be seen in Western suits and hairstyles, and sometimes sporting mustaches and beards, according to the fashions of the time in Europe and America.
Japanese Erotic Cartoons
Many of the attributes described above can be noticed in the prints below that are attributed to the artist Terazaki Kogyo (1866-1919). Each design has been divided in three separate images starting the story with the above right image. Kogyo and other Meiji artists already experimented including one inserted image that showed the previous activities leading up to the final erotic exchange. Actually these were the first Japanese erotic cartoons…
A wealthy merchant wearing a striking mustache is enjoying himself with his lover.
An erotic encounter in a bathhouse.
A courtesan and a client on a pleasure boat. The second image (left above) shows an aroused boatman who spies upon the love-making couple inside the boat.
A young girl is observing the sensual encounter in the other room.
A young couple in the early phase of their relationship still exploring each other.
A rickshaw is making love to his “female freight”.
A hairy intruder has inserted the bedroom of a sleeping woman and has overpowered her.
Coffee, tea or me…