Kobayashi Asahina (aka. Asahina Yoshihide or Asahina Saburo) was a mythical warrior of the Kamakura period (late 12th to early 13th century) known for his great tenacity and boldness. His mother was the famous Tomoe Gozen, a late twelfth-century female samurai warrior (onna-bugeisha).
Asahina’s feats include a descent to Hades, as well as assisting the Soga brothers in their vendetta. Although he was a popular subject in Japanese art and literature, scholars and historians are not sure whether he really existed.
Asahina was also one of the favorite topics of the artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi, whose triptychs he often adorned (see images above). In the erotic prints below Kuniyoshi portrays him in a humorous manner, more as a clownish kabuki character, with flared sideburns and bizarre make-up called saruguma (‘monkey makeup’).
An impotent Asahina is seduced by a lascivious woman. She is massaging his flaccid penis using her left foot while grabbing his arm. In contrast an older foreign (probably Siam or Indian) couple is passionately making love in the background.
To the amusement of Asahina a young foreign (probably Indian) boy sticks his erect penis through a folding-screen depicting Daruma. Daruma’s nose now has been replaced by the young man’s private parts. Asahina wears a beautiful kimono patterned with a circular crane motif and branches.
Kobayashi Asahina involved in a liaison with four women. This design has also inspired later pupils of Kuniyoshi.
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