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Yashima Gakutei or Hokusai? Who Designed These Amazing Shunga Books?

In the past the mesmerizing erotic book set called ‘Kurawa no tanoshimi ‘ (c.1820s) has been attributed to several artists such as Hokusai‘s daughter Katsushika Ōi (c.1800-c.1866), Hokusai’s talented son-in-law Yanagawa Shigenobu (1787-1832) and one of the most refined surimono * designers in the history of ukiyo-e and pupil of Hokusai, Yashima Gakutei ( 1786-1868) **.

Hokusai Himself

Personally, I think it is quite possible that this is a work by Hokusai himself (as there are many references to other of his prints) in which he experimented with certain designs. Also, stylistically, it bears all his characteristics (the “pointy” fingers and toes, the curved neck – Fig.26 and 27, the idiosyncratic Hokusai poses).

Fresh Colors

The designs have fine impressions, color and very good condition. Some tiny wormholes, minor browning and staining but overall in a very nice state with fresh colors. The books consist of no less than 23 double page color illustrations and 6 single color illustrations. Size of each book: 8 4/5″ x 6 1/5″ inches.

Lavishly Printed

The prints are lavishly printed including gold and silver pigments and embossing.

Anyhow, for the first time ever on the internet you can now admire the set in its entirety…

Fig.1. ‘The three volumes

Fig.2. ‘Nobleman and lover on a boat

Yashima Gakutei: egg-shaped couple (pose 69)

Fig.3. ‘The famous egg-shaped couple applied earlier in Hokusai’s ‘Fukujuso (The Adonis Plant)

Yashima Gakutei: Intimate couple on the balcony

Fig.4. ‘Intimate couple on the balcony

Yashima Gakutei: Passionate couple on a pleasure boat

Fig.5. ‘Passionate couple on a pleasure boat

Yashima Gakutei: intimate couple with copulating dogs and agitated cat

Fig.6. ‘A notorious composition with copulating dogs in the foreground which Hokusai also applied in ‘The Horny God of Izumo‘ (c.1822) without the agitated cat

Yashima Gakutei: scene with the female lying on top her lover with the man's erect penis between her legs

Fig.7. ‘An amusing scene with the female lying on top her lover with the man’s erect penis between her legs. He plucks at her pubic hair while she tenderly holds his pulseThis illustration shows Hokusai’s great empathy as an artist and human

Yashima Gakutei: simple bathhouse attendant sexually assaulting a nude courtesan in a public bath.

Fig.8. ‘A simple bathhouse attendant sexually assaulting a nude courtesan in a public bath. This well-known “bathhouse rape” scene with also used in Fukujuso (The Adonis Plant) issued c. 1818. So this is probably a new interpretation by Hokusai

Yashima Gakutei: Female sitting sideways on top of her lover. Her beautiful long hair covers her entire back

Fig.9. ‘Female sitting sideways on top of her lover. Her beautiful long hair covers her entire back

Yashima Gakutei: a wild gay encounter with two completely nude males

Fig.10. ‘A wild gay encounter with two completely nude males

Yashima Gakutei: Clandestine encounter at the window with the courtesan handing a secret letter to a young messenger

Fig.11. ‘Clandestine encounter at the window with the courtesan handing a secret letter to a young messenger‘

Yashima Gakutei: priest Dokyo making love to empress Kōken

Fig.12. ‘The infamous priest Dokyō making love to empress Kōken (713-770)

Yashima Gakutei: sensuous couple positioned on the above left in the background and with the diagonal alignment of the black curtain running from the above right to the lower (middle) left. The woman is a high-class courtesan

Fig.13. ‘An unusual composition with the sensuous couple positioned on the above left in the background and with the diagonal alignment of the black curtain running from the above right to the lower (middle) left. The woman is a high-class courtesan (oiran)

Yashima Gakutei: a classical Hokusi composition with an intimate couple taking shelter behind an umbrella in the open-air. A striking detail is the male passionately biting in his cap (in most cases it is the female protagonist ho does this!). The female gently directs his penis to her private area

Fig.14. ‘A classical Hokusai composition with an intimate couple taking shelter behind an umbrella in the open-air. A striking detail is the male passionately biting in his cap (in most cases it is the female protagonist ho does this!). The female gently directs his penis to her private area

Yashima Gakutei: A hasty passionate encounter with a young couple on a stairway

Fig.15. ‘A hasty passionate encounter with a young couple on a stairway. Their uncontrollable affection is emphasized by the fallen lantern next to them

Yashima Gakutei: A middle-aged couple set in a relaxed sensual pose. The male has striking sideburns

Fig.16. ‘A middle-aged couple set in a relaxed sensual pose. The male has striking sideburns

Yashima Gakutei: young voracious female is holding the phallus of a drained middle-aged male who is leaning on a headrest

Fig.17. ‘A restless and voracious (the many tissues are a clear indication of this!) young female is holding the phallus of a drained middle-aged male who is leaning on a headrest

Yashima Gakutei: During a hot summer day a pregnant female gets taken from behind by her spouse. She is wearing a sash around her belly to supports her swollen stomach

Fig.18. ‘During a hot summer day a pregnant female gets taken from behind by her spouse. She is wearing a sash around her belly to supports her swollen stomach

Yashima Gakutei: An adorable shunga scene with an ejaculating young boy.

Fig.19. ‘An adorable scene with an ejaculating. The bare private parts of the sleeping geisha are clearly to overwhelming for his inexperienced mind

Yashima Gakutei: Izanagi and Izanami

Fig.20. ‘Izanagi and Izanami

Yashima Gakutei: Heavily armed archer brutally grabs his lover. The latter pulls the string of her kimono in order to offer him her lower body

Fig.21. ‘Heavily armed archer brutally grabs his lover. The latter pulls the string of her kimono in order to offer him her lower body 

Yashima Gakutei: An amusing (although suspenseful) image with a red-faced chubby male holding a sharp Santoku knife about to confront the intimate couple in the other room

Fig.22. ‘An amusing (although suspenseful) image with a red-faced chubby male holding a sharp Santoku knife about to confront the intimate couple in the other room

Yashima Gakutei: A courtesan in training is seduced by her teacher during her music lesson.

Fig.23. ‘A courtesan in training is seduced by her teacher during her music lesson. She leans on the desk while they stroke each other’s genitals. Her music notes books, plectrum (bachi), and the shamisen (three-stringed traditional Japanese musical instrument) lie around them

Yashima Gakutei: An inept adolescent boy suckling the nipple of a receptive mature female.

Fig.24. ‘An inept adolescent boy suckling the nipple of a receptive mature female. Nipple sucking is a recurring theme in Hokusai’s sensual idiom

Yashima Gakutei: The courtesan - sitting underneath a kotatsu brazier - was reading some ehon (books) before she was interrupted by her aroused lover

Fig.25. ‘A subtle tableau in which sensuality does not immediately catch the eye. The courtesan – sitting underneath a kotatsu brazier – was reading some ehon (books) before she was interrupted by her aroused lover

Yashima Gakutei: A deviating vertical design depicting a passionate quickie on a staircase.

Fig.26. ‘A deviating vertical design depicting a passionate quickie on a staircase. The curved neck of the female is another of Hokusai’s characteristic details

Fig.27. ‘The previous design vertically rotated ‘

Yashima Gakutei: An impeccable composition with nude couple coupling in "dog fashion". They are delighted to find themselves alone, as the master has gone out for the evening, leaving his wife free to dally at leisure with her secret lover

Fig.28. ‘An impeccable composition that Hokusai used earlier in his iconic ‘Fukujuso’-series.  We see a nude couple coupling in “dog fashion”. They are delighted to find themselves alone, as the master has gone out for the evening, leaving his wife free to dally at leisure with her secret lover 

Yashima Gakutei: A striking conclusive design with a man who has an erotic dream inspired by the shunga books he was reading shortly before

Fig.29. ‘A striking conclusive design with a man who has an erotic dream inspired by the shunga books he was reading shortly before

Click HERE for more articles on exciting complete shunga book sets….!!

*Surimono were privately commissioned prints, and often elaborately printed including embossing techniques…etc. They were issued at special occasions such as the New Year.

**Yashima Gakutei was a famous poet and ukiyo-e print designer. He studied under Totoya Hokkei (1780-1850) and was much influenced by Hokusai. Gakutei often employed the nom de plume Gogaku and left a number of skilled surimono and book illustrations, among which his impressionistic landscape scene are magnificent. Though a native of Edo, Gakutei lived in Osaka during the early 1830s.

What do you think about these kind of articles? Leave your reaction in the comment box below…!!

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 30 March 2020

Thank you for the set! The vertical design is very unusual.

Marijn
By

Marijn

on 30 March 2020

Thanks Darya. Yes, it gives a completely different dynamic..!

Carmelo Militano
By

Carmelo Militano

on 30 March 2020

It is mid-morning in Yokohama Almost faded pale moon like a lantern At the end of a Prussian blue roof 'The" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">https://shungagallery.com/hokusais-the-great-wave/">The Great Wave off Kanagawa' by Hokusai Not yet painted but she feels the surge of the sea And like the fishermen in their longboats Fears the wave above and in her Where will she land after it passes? She closes her eyes, hangs on to his neck Pleasure guides her open boat, her compass Lips move towards the perfect symmetry of Mount Fuji

Marijn
By

Marijn

on 30 March 2020

Thanks a lot Carmelo, beautiful ode to the Japanese icons!

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