Rare Erotic Paintings of a Mutilated Yokai, a Foreigner and Two Gay Noh Actors
30 april 2021 
16 min. read

Rare Erotic Paintings of a Mutilated Yokai, a Foreigner and Two Gay Noh Actors

Earlier this month I discovered (and obtained) three large shunga paintings on silk from the early 20th century that I didn’t want to keep from you. They depict mesmerizing scenes starring a disfigured yokai (ghost) seducing a wicked drunkard, a Westerner involved in a secret love affair with a Japanese geisha, and two gay Noh performers engaged in a battle.

Female Yokai with evil man erotic


In a misty ominous setting under a plum blossom tree we witness the passionate encounter of a grubby vagrant engaged in a passionate encounter with a female yokai (ghost) under a cherry blossom tree (Fig.1). He pushes her head towards him in order to kiss her while he caresses her private parts with his foot. The man’s drunkenness (his twitching eyelid, the underwear on his head and the empty sake jars surrounding him) is aptly captured by the artist.

intimate yokai with man


A funny detail are the street dogs that feast on the man’s leftovers (Fig.4). The body hair of the man and the scars on the back of the ghost’s legs and face are beautifully executed. The macabre sensuality is on par with the best of Kobayashi Eitaku (1843-1890).

sensual Yokai ghost


The female figure is the spirit of the Komachi cherry tree, Kurozome. An evil man plans to builds a shrine and approaches an old tree for its wood. The spirit of the cherry tree appears as a courtesan. She needs no legs. He brags about his plans and wants to cut down the tree. Before he can raise his axe, she changes into a cherry branch and hits him. The painting is pretty large and measures 32 3/4 x 83 3/4 cm (13″ x 33″ inches).

hungry dogs erotic painting


Foreigner and geisha erotic


Dutchman with geisha shunga


This outstanding piece depicts a phenomenal scene of an ardent encounter in a dimly lit room between a Western man and a Japanese geisha. The sparse light comes from the only burning candle in the hallway.

intimate Westerner and geisha


The birdcage is an amusing detail that is sometimes included in scenes depicting Westerners (Dutch). The man is probably a Dutch member of a delegation on his way to pay a visit to the shogunal court in Edo (now Tokyo) and then the birds are a gift for the shōgun.

close up intimate Westerner and geisha


Dutchman erotic close up


The name of this Japanese artist is unknown but besides the technical skills, a detail such as the woman’s curved foot also shows his great sense of intimacy. This painting is 32 3/4 x 85 cm (13″ x 33 1/2″ inches).

birdcage with numerous birds and flute


two gay noh actors fighting


The last piece (Fig.9) takes us to a foggy backdrop near a Buddhist temple that serves as a battle ground for two Noh actors. They portray famous characters from the Noh theater (see Fig. 14), with one of them wearing a Hannya mask and threatening with a crutch while his opponent waves at him with Buddhist prayer beads. The latter is a waki (supporting actor) and has an exposed erection. All performers in noh are male so this is clearly a homoerotic reference.

noh actors hannya mask


Noh derived from the Japanese word for “skill” or “talent” is a major form of classical Japanese musical drama that has been performed since the 14th century. The drama is structured around song and dance. It is characterized by slow movement, poetic language, monotonous voices, and rich and heavy costumes.

hannya mask erotic


Plots are usually drawn from legend, history, literature and contemporary events, and themes often relate to dreams, supernatural worlds, ghosts and spirits. One key element of noh is the masks which the shite (the leading character) wears. Frequently used masks represent demons, spirits, as well as women and men of various ages.

dragon motif kimono


The shite wears a kimono portraying several varying motifs such as a dragon holding a ball (Fig.12). From ancient times, dragons in Asia were associated with nature and particularly the weather. In the oldest depictions, the dragon is holding the sun — a red, flaming ball. Since dragons were believed to be supernaturally wise, perhaps it is only natural that they should seek or hold such a treasure.

shunga poem painting


The frightening face mask is the famous Hannya mask, representing a jealous female demon. It possesses two sharp bull-like horns, metallic eyes, and a leering mouth. The Hannya mask is said to be demonic and dangerous but also sorrowful and tormented, displaying the complexity of human emotions. When the actor looks straight ahead, the mask appears frightening and angry; when tilted slightly down, the face of the demon appears to be sorrowful, as though crying.

This last painting measures 32 3/4 x 84 2/3 cm (13″ x 33 1/3″ inches). It also includes a large unidentified artist’s seal and a poem. If someone can help me out with the translation of the poem I will appreciate it very much!

noh actor hannya mask

Fig.14. Contemporary Noh performance  (Source: curiocate.wordpress.com/)

Click HERE for an article on the magnificent erotic art depicting bestiality of Kobayashi Eitaku…!!

Source: japan-guide.com/

What do you think about these three shunga paintings? Leave your reaction in the comment box below….!!

About the author
Marijn is the founder of shungagallery.com. 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 30 Apr 2021

Love the technique, some parts look almost like embroidery. Thank you for sharing



on 30 Apr 2021

Thanks Darya. Yes, that is the silk that shows through the paint.



on 30 Apr 2021

Nice find Marijn! My preference goes to the copulating geisha and Dutch personage. The detail of the geisha's curved foot was the very first detail that caught my attention. Also the lighting and bird cage. Last but not least, the toes of the foot on the right are curved up; in shunga female toes are always curved down. Large painting, small pic. Another detail I've never seen before (unless it's only an illusion because the pic lacks clarity and definition here) is the geisha's engorged, almost erect clitoris, taking the place of the usually enlarged penis. Her head is not thrown back, her face is hidden, buried in his neck, and he looks almost as if afraid they'll be caught in the act. The use of red color is remarkable. It calls the observer to the left of the painting, then it's use on the garment frames and leads the eyes to the engorged clitoris, bright like that single candle flame. The geisha, barely exposed, has absolute control over her male counterpart. Very nice pairing indeed. The other two aren't inferior, but this one just gets my imagination fired up in a particular way. It's almost like it tells a story that mustn't be told.



on 30 Apr 2021

(Huuuh! Again, sorry for the typos. Can't edit comments and autocorrect is a pain! Fingers on small phone keyboards are a very bad combination!)



on 30 Apr 2021

Thanks a lot for your reaction JB. I absolutely agree with you, the scene with the Westerner is outstanding and also my favorite. You're right the pics on the site don't capture the beauty of the piece in reality. The right part of the composition with the Dutchman is darker in tone.I've included new pics that come closer. All the things you mentioned also stood out for me, although I hadn't noticed the engorged vagina. Another fascinating detail is the false beard the man appears to be wearing. This immediately puts your imagination to work. It makes their rendezvous even more secretive. The artist in question is truly a master of detail.

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