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30 April 2018 

Gay Rendezvous Between Buddhist Monk and Temple Page

The young boy depicted here is a so called temple page (‘chigo‘ or ‘terakosho‘ ), they were available to monks, who were regarded without censure as among the most avid adherents to the so called ‘Way of the Youth‘. As often with male-male depictions in Japanese shunga, one of the depicted persons – taking the active role – is an older man (‘nenjo‘ ).

O-tanzakuban yoko-e-sized print featuring a ‘Buddhist monk penetrating a temple page from the rear‘ (c.1803) by Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806)

Shaved Forelock

The receptive partner (‘wakashu‘ ) was invariably a pre-pubescent or pubescent boy or a young man who has not yet shaved off his forelock, a sign in Japanese society that he had not yet come of age. Male-male relationships, within the samurai class and in monasteries between monks and their young acolytes, were a common phenomenon in Tokugawa Japan, as was prostitution among young kabuki actors of female roles.

temple page

Detail of the above print

Uncommon Carving

The size of this rare print is quite uncommon; a half-size horizontal oban design would have been carved on one half of a woodblock, with another design carved from the other. This design is most likely from a set of twelve prints issued late in Utamaro’s life. Striking is the inro* on the floor behind the young man’s head. The young male holds on to a geisha pillow¬†while he is undergoes the sensual “violence” of his older partner.

Check out more exciting content on Utamaro…!!!

*The inro is a traditional Japanese case for holding small objects, suspended from the obi (sash) worn around the waist.

About the author
Marijn is the founder of 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.


on 2 March 2020

I was sure that the difference of ages of partners in homosexual shunga was used to make the difference of their penises logical or explainable. A partner, who's taking an active role, has an exaggerated penis and so he is an old one. A passive partner has small genitalia and due to his passive position he tends to be a youngster. That seems to be right, but I was surprised when I faced a gay shunga by Kitao Shigemasa from 'Enpon tokiwa no matsu' series (ca. 1770), where an intercourse happens between two obviously young boys (their forelocks aren't shaved), but their penises still differ very much.



on 2 March 2020

Thanks Darya, we are working on a new eBook on Nanshoku (male-male sex)hat will be issued in April (May). In this book (that will be loaded with excited images!) we'll discuss this specific theme in more detail...! Scenes, like the one of Shigemasa, with two young males is a rare sub-theme within gay shunga!

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