Painting of a sensual and strangely erotic ghost

This erotic ghost painting (Yuurei-zu) by Senju balances between the sensual and melancholy on one hand and the subdued rage in the ghost of a young woman.


Ever since I discovered Yuurei-zu a long time ago I have suffered a strange fascination with the genre. It is not about death, danger, fear or the dark world where the Yuurei dwells. I am not the kind person who easily regards ghosts or even the soul to be something that exists in my reality but somehow the melancholy of the ghosts speak to me. Even when the paintings border on the grotesque the Japanese ghost expresses a sort of desperation. To be seen. To be recognized. To belong. To interact. The suffering of the ghost, sometimes portrayed almost as mental illness, anxiety or just the uncontrollable urge to be something else, somewhere else, just not in their lonesome world of indescribable pain.

Although I do not find the image and idea of the Japanese ghost erotic in the usual sense of the word there is nevertheless something undeniably sensual in the notion of its almost liquid and  highly intangible form. Sometimes the Japanese painters of the Edo and Meiji period rendered the ghosts in terrifying bloody images but at other times they captured the fragile and the sorrowfully beautiful in images such as “A ghost before a mosquito net” by Eiho Hirezaki (1881-1968).

sensually erotic ghost

“A ghost before a mosquito net” by Eiho Hirezaki.

The erotic ghost.

Why do I even entertain an idea of the erotic ghost? Perhaps it has to do with my own personal idea of closeness, trust  and compassion as integral parts of sexual intimacy. As I have discussed on numerous earlier occasions, I feel that there is a divide in between what I would call the idea of sex as it is taught to us by social constructions, culture, religion etc and the wonderfull thing it can be when the layers of distraction and illusion are peeled off. So maybe I feel a romantic attachment to the sadness and melancholy of the ghost and this is what in turn makes it erotic.

Halloween is soon upon us and October 2017 will be a month where I will explore the world of Yuurei-zu. I will study the traditional Japanese ghost stories of the time and try to find inspiration for paintings that will range from the slightly sensual all the way to the explicitly erotic and pornographic. I will most likely leave out blood and gore since imagery containing death, murder, rape, mutilation, or torture has no place in my artistic cosmos. Mine will be the one of the erotic ghost and the sensual specter. There are many characters within the realm of Japanese art and lore that flirt with the erotic side of things. A small amount of these are ghost. Others are perhaps strong female characters that turns into demons and other creatures. it is quite likely that some of these will end up in my catalogue of Yuurei-zu.

While you wait in anticipation for the next ghost painting you can always read “Seduction” Shunga, ghosts and desperation where I talk a little bit about my first Shunga ghost painting.

Since I have spent almost two decades researching Japanese art, history and culture as part of my traditional Japanese tattooing this will be a month of intellectual festivities. The gods know that intellectuality, sensitivity and the artistic scares the shit out of the narrow minded, the hateful, aggressive and violent. They are also quite often deadly afraid when it comes to the idea of freedom of sexuality or simply the idea of compassion and love. No wonder I look forward to it so much.


To find out who I am and why I create what I create you should read “Shunga and how I found my artistic voice (finally).”