Marijn Kruijff
1 min

Japanese Shunga Print Depicting the Ghastly Rape of a Seamstress

1 min

The Japanese shunga prints that feature rape during the period (c.1770-71) were rather rare. Depictions of rape occur more often in later shunga, dating from the second half of the 19th century when the overall image became coarser. This is one of the earliest shunga featuring explicit rape.

rape shunga

Rape of a seamstress‘ (c.1770-71) from an untitled series by Isoda Koryusai

Luscious Sewer

A young girl on the second floor of a house is disturbed in her sewing work by a hairy intruder with a shaggy beard. We can only see part of the girl s face, but it might very well be that she is not amused, and that this furry man is an uninvited burglar who as forced the luscious sewer to have sex with him.

She is not embracing him at all  moreover, her left hand seems to be pushing him away. Rape does not fit very well with the gentle and cheerful erotic images created by Harunobu, Koryusai and other 18th-century masters.


Probably the most famous image of ‘rape’ was created by Katsushika Hokusai in which a woman is taken by two octopuses, which embrace her with their tentacles.

The girl’s unfinished needlework can be seen in the bottom right: a haribako (sewing box, lit. ‘needle box’) with a pin cushion on top, a striped piece of cloth, a pair of scissors and a ruler. The brown spots on the orange-colored staircase at the bottom left of the image are caused by oxidation of the colour pigments.

Koryusai designed another rape scene that portrays a forceful falconer!

More Japanese shunga prints by Koryusai can be found here

Source: ‘Japanese Erotic Prints, Shunga by Harunobu & Koryusai‘ by Inge Klompmakers