A Rare Discovery of a Gay Shunga Designed by Katsushika Hokusai
Marijn Kruijff
2 min

A Rare Discovery of a Gay Shunga Designed by Katsushika Hokusai

2 min

Until recently it was unknown if Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) ever designed homoerotic images. But a few weeks ago I discovered this fascinating piece that is without a doubt by the great master. Although the series is unknown, the artist and period are certain.

hokusa - shunga - gay couple

Fig.1. ‘Homoerotic couple‘ (c.1820) from an unknown series by Katsushika Hokusai (Sold)

Size of Male’s Genitalia

As usual in gay scenes within shunga the males are divided in a younger adolescent and a mature male who dominates their love-making. What is striking in this particular case is the similarity of the size of male’s genitalia. Normally the older dominant male is equipped with a larger member than his submissive young partner (see Fig.4 and 5).

The size of the print is  5 2/3′ x  8 4/5′ inches. The impression of the print is fine with superbly printed gold pigments details  and has very good colors. The condition is very good with only minor marks and flaws.

Corkscrew Penis

The striking rendering of the dominant male’s penis is reminiscent to Hokusai’s famous “corkscrew” design (Fig.3). It was one of his trademarks.

Hokusai is among the greatest Japanese artists that ever lived. His influence on the Japanese culture and modern art in general is gigantic! This marvellous piece is the kind that you come across only once in a lifetime.

hokusai - shunga - unique erotic piece

Fig.2. Close-up detail of ‘Homoerotic couple‘ design

Hokusai - Models of Loving Couples - shunga

Fig.3. “Corkscrew design” (c.1810s) from the series ‘Models of Loving Couples (Tsuhi no hinagata)

Translation of the Japanese text in the “Corkscrew” design:

Woman: “I’ve continuously reached height, three or four times already, but still I’m not satisfied. Too much sex works as poison, they say, but I don’t know if it’s poison or medicine. Now, I don’t care if it’s poison. I’d rather be killed.”

kyosai - shunga - gay art

Fig.4. ‘Festival orgy‘ (c.1871). Koban-sized surimono by Kawanabe Kyosai (1831-1889)

Homoerotic Shunga - Gay Couple - koban - utagawa school

Fig.5. ‘Onnagata* and older male‘ (c.1840) from an untitled koban-sized set of twelve prints. Pupil of the Utagawa school.

homoerotic art

Fig.6. Another impression Hokusai’s design (Picture from tuyashun)

*A young male actor playing female roles

Translation Airi Nakano