senju shunga the heron maiden
Senju Shunga
1 min

The Sensual Kabuki Dance in Sagi Musume As Seen by Senju Shunga

1 min

Kabuki theatre and shunga is a match made in heaven. To be honest I am surprised at myself for not seriously pursuing this avenue of erotic narrative earlier.It was almost likely there all along, but I guess circumstance prevented me from seeing the obvious, limiting my perception and sensitivity, blinding me to all the possibilities and implications that follows in the wake of Kabuki's colorfulness, bravado and almost surreal dramatic costume.

Immoral Behavior

Kabuki has always been closely linked to the erotic aspects of the so called floating world of Edo period Japan,  beginning with the dance performances of Izumi no Okuni in the early 1600s and then slowly evolving into the all male ensembles we see today. The samurai government, fearing an increase in immoral behavior, prohibited women from performing on stage in 1629, and instead female impersonators, onnagata, replaced them.

senju shunga the heron maidenFig.1. 'Sagi Musume (The Heron Maiden) ' (2017)

Carnal Temptations

The bustling and ever growing city of Edo and its Yoshiwara red light district, with all the carnal temptations and pleasures such a place presented and fulfilled, sex was at its centre and kabuki thrived in  the midst of all this. Actors were sometimes available as prostitutes or escorts as well. Dreams and fantasies arising, pursued and satisfied. No wonder my mind appears feverishly delirious at the prospects of diving headlong into kabuki 's historically sinful depths.

Forever Charmed

Kabuki theatre were of course not only inspiration for passion, pleasures and human sexual desires, but also the birthplaces of a beautifully developed style of drama and dance performances unique in all its splendor and soulfulness. On my first visit to Japan I had the pleasure of visiting the classic kabuki-za theatre in Tokyo and was forever charmed by the experience. If you are going to visit to Japan, I strongly recommend that you devote an evening to kabuki.

In the Premium version of this article,  Senju gives a passionate account of his shunga work Sagi Musume (the Heron Maiden) ..

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Text from Kagami - Contemporary Shunga by Senju Shunga

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