Japanese Sex Toys as Portrayed in Ancient Shunga
Shunga prints depicting Japanese sex toys from the Edo Period were included for the joy and education. These sex toys were produced for both men and women and the designs were often accompanied by pseudo-scientific descriptions explaining why each sex toy should be used. This stems from the idea that sex and health are inevitably entwined.
Below you can find additional info, designs depicting Japanese sex toys and also rare pictures of original pieces:
The above image (Fig.1.) depicts the following Japanese sex toys: a harigata (right), kujiri (upper left), and a dokata (below left).
Figure 2 depicts a tagaigata (left), a kabutokaki (first on the right), a rin no tama (second on the right), a namako no wa (third on the right) and a rin no wa (fourth on the right).
The four koban shunga by Keisai Eisen (1790-1848) added below include text that explains on how often one should have sex for optimal health organized in relation to the four seasons. Translated it reads: “spring three times a week, summer six, autumn one, winter none.” The image for winter portrays a chastity device for the male and a rather benevolent dildo for the female.
A woman is rubbing in her lover’s penis with a lubricant. In front of them lay some jewel balls and a higozuiki that she will wind around his penis later on during their love-play. He tenderly strokes her chin while his toes caress her private parts. Kuniyoshi produced another design without the sex toys.
Phalluses were often made in stone and wood, and presented as offerings to shrines as part of phallic cults to pray for good harvests and fertility in the family. They were also positioned at the boundaries of village settlements.
Even today, phalluses are often used at local festivals. Of course there is a clear distinction between the phalluses that were used for religious rituals and the dildos that were used for daily use. The pieces in the above set were for practical use. They are called, ‘laughing devices’ (warai dōgu) to emphasize the close connection between sex and laughter.
These are all examples of Japanese sex toys that are featured in certain shunga designs. Included are buffalo horn-made dildos (ushizō), tortoiseshell (kamezō) and wood (mokuzō). The hollow dildo (centre) could have cotton wadding soaked in hot water placed inside it, the hot water making the dildo soft and warm. Another striking toy is called ‘Dōkyō‘s armour and helmet’ (Dōkyō no yoroi-kabuto), named after the monk Dōkyō (d.AD 772), of whom it was said that he was the lover of Empress Kōken (AD 718-70). It was worn on the penis to give it a ribbed texture.
Make Women Cry
The ‘armour’ was worn on the shaft of the penis and the ‘helmet’ over the glans. In this set we can see two kinds: in one, the armour and helmet are separate (left); in the other, they form a single piece (right). There are also two examples of rings, with knobbles on them worn around the penis: these are known, literally, as secret rings to make women cry’ (himenaki-wa).
It is apparent from these real examples of sex toys that they were made by skilled artisans. These kind of sets were produced until the early twentieth century.*
In our collection we have (the tortoiseshell piece has been sold) two actual sex toys (harigata‘s) that date from the mid to late 19th century and resemble the ones depicted above:
The following two videos include many other designs with Japanese sex toys:
Click HERE for a striking oban-sized design from Keisai Eisen’s acclaimed A Light Spring Snow series (c.1822) including a lot of sex toys…!!!
*Source: ‘Shunga, Sex and Pleasure in Japanse Art‘ by Timothy Clark
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