Secret Sensual Rendezvous with
14 juni 2019 
3 min. read

Secret Sensual Rendezvous with "Staircase Sex"

Sequential images that take place in the same location are pretty rare in shunga. They were often included as an extra feature for the entertainment of the reader and/or to emphasize a certain detail in the storyline of the shunga book.

Fantasy Places

The two sequential images below are from ‘Ikuyo monogatari‘ by Utagawa Toyokuni (1769-1825). They take place on a staircase in a brothel near a balcony. The influential Japanese scholar Haga Toru explains that a staircase is an unusual architectural feature in a Japanese house. It existed only in the houses of the wealthy, in tea-houses and theatres. He names it as one of the preferred ‘fantasy’ places for quick precarious sexual encounters.

Ikuyo Monogatari

The first name of the title Ikuyo (Iku yo) literally means “I will go” or “Let’s go”. It also a popular girl’s name in Japan. Monogatari is a literary form in classical Japanese literature, a lengthened narrative story equal to the epic. Monogatari is closely related to facets of the oral heritage. It is often tied to a fictional or fictionalized tale, even when retelling a historical event. Some of the most famous Japanese fiction such as the Genji monogatari and the Heike monogatari, are in the monogatari style.

man caressing the private parts of a female near a staircase

Couple on the verandah‘ (c.1824) from the series ‘Ikuyo monogatari‘ by Utagawa Toyokuni

couple making love on the stairs by Toyokuni

Staircase sex‘ (c.1824) from the series ‘Ikuyo monogatari‘ by Utagawa Toyokuni

Hokusai also included a nice variation on this theme in his The Jewelled Merkin series from 1821…

sensual couple having sex on the staircase by hokusai

Secret intimate encounter on the staircase of a tea-house’ (c.1821) from the series ‘Tamakazura (The Jewelled Merkin)‘ by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849)

intimate couplese making love at the top of the staircase with servant

Intimate encounter at the top of the stairs while a servant holding a tray with food walks up the stairs‘ (c.1842) from the series ‘Shiki no sugatami’ (Viewing Forms in the Four Seasons)‘ by Utagawa Kunisada

Click HERE and check out a violent example from Toyokuni’s Ikuyo Monogatari-series..!!

About the author
Marijn is the founder of With more than 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.


on 11 Feb 2020

The staircase behind the lovers in Hokusai's shunga is a bit similar to a pleasure-boat. It's a separated private space. Charming, thank you!



on 11 Feb 2020

Thanks Darya, did you check out the article on pleasure-boats" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">">pleasure-boats in shunga.....!!

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