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Discover the Hilarious Laughing Pictures in Shunga

Images that depict sexual activity have mainly been called shunga since the Meiji period. This means that the term is only about 150 years old. When the term appeared in a text, the Chinese characters that were used for the word usually had a phonetic luster in Japanese writing (kana) translating warai-e (laughing pictures).

Foolish

Other words that were used in ancient times were osokutsu-no-e and oko-e. The etymological background of the word Osokutsu refers to the term ensoku, which means “recline to rest”. Oko, in contrast, means something foolish that evokes laughter.

laughing pictures: Daruma staring at a genital entrance

Fig.1. ‘Daruma meditating at the genital entrance‘ (c.1870)

Pleasing the Gods

Warai-e transferred the meaning of oko-e. As a symbol the character warai evolved from the figure of a shrine maiden holding her hands high up while she sings and dances. This because, human joy and laughter are ways of pleasing the gods.

laughing pictures: snowwoman and horny man

Fig.2. ‘Man grabs between the legs of his self-made snow woman‘ (c.1870)

Story of the Sun Deity in the Cave

The story of the shrine maiden is known under the title “Rock Door of Heaven” as told in the book Kojiki (An Account of Ancient Matters, dating 711-712). In the story, the sun deity Amaterasu-no-omikami retreats to a cave, and closes the entrance with a stone door, that turns the world into darkness.

laughing pictures: 'Ame no Uzume' by Kosugi Hōan

Fig.3. ‘Ame no Uzume‘ by Kosugi Hōan (Source: https://dance-and-the-dawn.tumblr.com/)

Displays Her Breasts

Just outside the cave, the shrine maiden Ame-no-uzume (Fig.3), as if possessed, starts a wild dance in which she partially undresses and displays her breasts and even her vagina. The watching gods burst out in laughter, and hearing this, the curious Amaterasu, who wants to know what’s going on, opens the rock cave and peers out. At last the darkness gave way to light.

laughing pictures: man and woman use their tools for intimate experiments during their household activities

Fig.4. ‘A man and woman use their tools for intimate experiments during their household activities‘ (c.1870)

Kyosai

One of the Japanese artists who excelled in laughing pictures was Kawanabe Kyosai (1831-1889). He was responsible for the last great outburst of laughter in the history of Japanese erotic pictures. Below you can find more examples that were either by Kyosai’s hand or one of his followers…

laughing pictures: penis game

Fig.5. ‘Penis game‘ (c.1870)

laughing pictures: Tengu ('heavenly dog') making love to 4 women

Fig.6. ‘Tengu (‘heavenly dog’) making love to 4 women‘ (c.1870)

laughing pictures: Male housekeeper uses his giant phallus as a mosquito-killing device. His female colleague uses her private parts in an alternative way

Fig.7. ‘Male housekeeper uses his giant phallus as a mosquito-killing device. His female colleague uses her private parts in an alternative way‘ (c.1870)

laughing pictures: An insatiable chubby woman holding on to the penis of her older lover with two hands

Fig.8. ‘An insatiable chubby woman holding on to the penis of her older lover with two hands‘ (c.1880)

laughing pictures laughing pictures: An insatiable chubby woman holding on to the penis of her older lover with two hands

Fig.9. Hilarious shunga featuring ‘all kinds of sex games‘ (c.1850s) by Koikawa Shozan (1831-1907)

Fig.10. ‘Vulva masks‘ (c.1858) from the series ‘Warai no gu oheso ga cha‘ by Koikawa Shozan *

laughing pictures:

Fig.11. ‘Phallus acrobatics‘ (c.1858) from the series ‘Warai no gu oheso ga cha‘ by Koikawa Shozan (Source: ‘Shunga. Explicit art of Japan‘, 2016. Authors: A. E. Pushakova, K. G. Danelya) *

laughing pictures: toy print attributed to Akatsuki no kanenari

Fig.12. ‘Toy print (?)‘ (late 19th century) attributed to Akatsuki no kanenari (Source: ‘Shunga. Explicit art of Japan‘, 2016. Authors: A. E. Pushakova, K. G. Danelya) *

Click HERE for some laughing pictures involving a horse (!)…!!

What is your favorite of the above laughing pictures? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below…!!
*Photo by Darya
About the author
Marijn is the founder of shungagallery.com. With more then 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.
Darya
By

Darya

on 27 February 2020

Fig 2. 'Pygmalion. The beginning'. The plot telling about gods who laugh at displayed private parts or at something like that is a widespread one. The story about the Sun Deity reminds me also of Demeter who was a Greek goddess of the harvest. After Hades had abducted her daughter she mourned for her so much that the soil stopped being fertile. During the search of the daughter she met a woman named Iambe that set the goddess laughing by telling her obscene jokes or by exposing private parts while dancing in other version.

Marijn
By

Marijn

on 28 February 2020

Thanks Darya, your comparisons with Western culture (Greek mythology and the Bible) are very interesting. It's always fascinating to see that many of the themes are universal.The scene with the snowwoman is also my favorite!

Darya
By

Darya

on 6 March 2020

btw, have you seen a print by Eisen that is similar to Shozan's one (with an acrobatic couple testing different ways to make love)? Speaking of Shozan, his design, depicting a couple that dreams of a bunch of penis-headed kabuki actors (?) from 'Sashimogusa' series is also hilarious!

Marijn
By

Marijn

on 6 March 2020

No, doesn't ring a bell. Your book includes a lot of obscure images!

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