Kabuki Shunga. “Sagi Musume” or The Heron Maiden is a famous dance performance in Japanese Kabuki theatre. This shunga print is my imagination playing with alternative narrative. Created in January 2017 as a part of an ongoing series inspired by Kabuki plays.
Kabuki Shunga is a match made in heaven. To be honest I am surprised at myself for not seriously pursuing this avenue of erotic narrative earlier. Perhaps it was my 16 years as a tattooer of traditional Japanese designs that kept me from seeing the obvious, limiting my perception and sensitivity. Kabuki theatre has always been closely linked to the erotic aspects of the floating world of Edo period japan, beginning with the dance performances of Izumi no Okuni in the early 1600’s and slowly evolving into later centuries all male ensembles with its female impersonators, Onnagata, and all the possibilities and implications that follows in the wake of Kabuki’s colorfulness, bravado and all together almost surreal dramatic costume.
In Edo and its Yoshiwara red light district, with all the carnal temptations and pleasures such a place presented and fulfilled, sex was at its center and Kabuki evolved in the midst of all this. Actors were sometimes available as prostitutes or escorts as well. Dreams and fantasies arising, pursued and satisfied. No wonder my mind appears feverishly delirious at the prospects of diving headlong into Kabuki’s historically sinful depths.
Kabuki theatres were of course not only inspiration for passion, pleasures and sexual desires, but also the birthplaces of a beautifully developed style of drama and dance performances unique in all its splendor and soulfulness. On my first visit to Japan I had the pleasure of visiting the classic Kabuki-za theatre and was forever charmed by the experience, even to the point of subjecting my children at an early age to watch Kabuki on DVD without any subtitles. To my delight they enjoyed the experience and clearly understood plots and characters without much prior knowledge. In the present, as teenagers, they watch completely different things on YouTube, but I hope that they will eventually stumble into some Kabuki once in a while.
For writings on Kabuki and my erotic art please go here. For more on the way my mind works and why I paint Shunga go here
For a quick guide to what Kabuki can be I hope you enjoy this video:
As for myself, I will now enter the Kabuki theatre in a most serious fashion and most likely never leave. Kabuki shunga will be a main them in my art for many years to come.
The Kabuki shunga print “Winter”. The fourth print in the mirror portrait series. Created in June 2016. It is a part of the highly limited edition made in collaboration with Lan’s Gallery in Hong Kong.
Oban size (25,4 x 38 cm)
Limited Edition of 15 prints.
Created June 2016
“The right side of her sweet face could still recall the cool textured wall of the secluded rice storehouse pressed up against it. Her cheeks still blushing from the passionate encounter just moments ago. Her lover had slipped away silently into the approaching dusk and now the snow laden blue grey sky held a promise of soft white coming down. Her breath was slowing down to normal now, her soul turning into fog as she exhaled and let all her emotions escape through her open mouth. The snow white kimono she was wearing was still pulled up and folded into a bundle of silk above her even whiter ass, usually an image reminiscent of the full moon but at the moment wearing the same blush as her face.
It had all happened very quickly. One moment they were walking along the ice covered river beneath silent willows. Strolling next to each other in the customary manner of two young lovers in courtship, yet making sure to keep their physical distance. Inside her, with every intimate word leaving his mouth as a seductive whisper, slowly a warm sensation was building, her heart pounding in her ears. The world around them gently disappearing into the white of the January afternoon.
When the rice storehouse appeared in their path there were no more whispers, no time for customary modesty or hesitation. Like lovers before and forever they were now alone in their trembling dream. His hand decisively pulling her into the shadows. She was wordlessly giving her consent, not wanting him to become shy. She knew him and trusted him. Most of all she trusted herself and that very moment. They existed right there and right now. Beneath the wooden beams they pushed their bodies into each other as if trying to become one single creature, as if trying to erase any distance between them. Even through the slightly coarse fabric of his black kimono she could feel the warmth of his skin, his hard cock searching desperately to escape its jail. They kissed, soft moans escaping, impossible to say whose voice was which as tongues and lips danced, explored, craved… Sometimes, for just a moment, they breathed into each others mouths, exchanging, blending their ghosts into one.
His hand suddenly, finally found a way through her layers of kimono, paused as if to make sure that he had found his way, then gently let his longest finger slide along her pussy as if asking for admittance, her wetness assuring him. With slight pressure he parted her labia and let the tip of his finger stop momentarily just as it entered her. Then he slipped in. They held their breath. Stood trembling. As if this second could last a lifetime. He let his finger slowly glide in and out of her a few times, then searched for her clitoris. She could tell he wasn’t really sure of where to look. He was fumbling and as soon as he found the spot she let him know by breathing harder into his mouth. Her world was spinning. She felt dizzy. Perhaps it was the anticipation and mystery all at the same time? She wasn’t really thinking now, just observing single words flash before her eyes, as if reading her own thoughts on a piece of paper.
Her hand found his warm hard cock. Fingertips soft against the throbbing, pulsating skin. It was easier for her. His clothing consisted of only two layers and she could quickly create an opening in his fabrics for his cock to break out. She looked down and watched her fingers explore the veiny, velvety surface. She grasped around his cock like someone grasping his sword, tightened her grip as if wanting to know how much pressure she should use to give him pleasure. He gasped for air, letting small words of nonsense out, like if he was murmuring in his sleep, dreaming. She let her fingers run up the cock and noticed the drop of pre cum that had formed at the tip of his cock. with the tip of her index finger she smeared the slippery liquid around the head of the cock. He held his breath
They both knew that their time in this small hut was running out. Soon they had to let go of their lustful world and enter back into reality. Keeping their secrets, sharing, concealing their passion. She let go of his cock and turned around, her face against the murky, cold wall. Leaning slightly forward, lifting her ass, she hoped he would know what to do now. His rested his hands on her hips for a few short seconds, then she sensed him kneeling down and grabbing the hem of her collected kimono layers. With a sound of silk ruffling, strangely loud in the wordless erotic atmosphere of the chilly rice storehouse, her calves, then thighs and finally ass was liberated. The assembled layers of fabrics produced a sensation of weight on her back at the same time as her naked skin gasped in the wintery air. His hand gathered the kimonos in a bunch as if to make sure they would not interfere with their love making. As he did so she could feel his warm cock brushing against the cheeks of her ass. She parted her feet slightly and he parted her labia with a finger. She felt him fumbling, searching for where to go, for a way inside her. For a second the soft skin of the head of his cock pushed slightly against her anus. She trembled. It was a heavenly horny and slightly forbidden feeling. Now all she wanted was him deep inside of her. Nothing else mattered. If someone walked in on them now, she wouldn’t care at all. It was all so worth it. Here and now. Them. Her pussy, His cock. What they shared and their intimacy. Worth dying for. Worth waiting for. The greatest of treasures.
She pushed her ass up slightly letting him know that he should search a little lower for what they both wanted. Finally she felt his cock pressing against her pussy. One of her hands grabbed her ass cheek and spread it. He noticed and grabbed the other one. Together they opened her and suddenly he slipped in. Not all the way. They drew deep breaths of pleasure simultaneously and she pushed her body back as he pushed his loins forward. Slowly he sank into the depths of her. Inside her. The hard cock filled her up and she felt his thighs against hers. She squeezed him, using her muscles like a snake and he let out a loud sound pleasure. They stood together, melted into one single being, for a few seconds. Then she began to slowly moving back and forth inviting him to ride her. At first he was gentle, slow, hands placed on her ass. Soon he began moving a little faster, pushing a bit harder now. She liked it like that. Her face against the wall and his cock fucking her from behind. Harder now. She wanted him to fuck her harder. It wasn’t a matter of her coming. She knew that time and the place didn’t allow for that. But she wanted to feel him. She wanted him to fuck her passionately, forget himself and shoot his hot semen deep into her. He followed her lead, moved his hands to her hips and pulled her firmly against his cock at each stroke. The sound of their thighs smacking against each other, the smell of wet pussy and the air thick with lust made her almost faint. Even if she wouldn’t come she loved it, worshipped the intimacy between them. It was a celebration of their shared trust in each others hearts.
His voice started to lose coherence. What came out of his mouth was just sounds now, still trying to be quiet but noticeably louder. His fingers was digging into her, pulling her towards him decisively with each thrust as he was climaxing. Suddenly he tensed into one final spasm, hands firm around her waist, her body as close to his as they could possibly be. He didn’t breathe. He was surprisingly quiet as his cum shot straight up into her, his cock convulsing. He collapsed over her back breathing as heavily as she did. She loved him. He loved her. Here and now.”
Three years ran past me before I finally had the inspiration to create the two final prints in the Mirror Series. In between lay other prints that interested me more at the time as well as life happening as surprisingly as it always does. For this print I chose to play with the theme of the famous Kabuki dance Sagi Musume
Even though the actual Kabuki piece does not contain any apparent erotica, the melancholy beauty that comes across in the Ukiyo-e prints created on this subject did set my romantic/erotic imagination ablaze. As far as erotic or pornographic versions within Ukiyo-e there are numerous examples in the Shunga genre for the one that knows what to look for when deciphering their subject matter and composition.
I choose to leave you this time with a video showing the famous Kabuki actor Tamasaburo performing the dance.
Buy this print. For more on how my erotic mind works please go here