10 Most Sensual Lesbian Erotic Scenes in Shunga


From all the subjects and themes within shunga (Japanese erotic prints, books and paintings) probably the most coveted are the prints depicting female-female love. In the treatment of the following ten lesbian oriented shunga designs in this article there are two prints included (the first and the last) which are more suggestive and less explicit but in my opinion, with their eye for female beauty and comical detail, a true addition to this specific theme.

Kuniyoshi – Grooming Scene

A comical image depicting a dressing room in a brothel with the activities of five courtesans joking around with one of their sleeping colleagues. Look for the chagrined facial expression of the courtesan on the left who is grooming her mons veneris. This design from the 1840s displays Kuniyoshi’s comic genius in full effect.

Hokusai – Entangled

From Hokusai’s classic shunga ehon (book) series Kinoe no komatsu (Young Pine Saplings) published in 1814, which also includes his famous Octopus design, a passionate lesbian encounter between two young women. They are in a very tight embrace with the girl below in an almost ecstatic pose. The girl on top is wearing a
harigata(dildo). The wrinkled undergarment was Hokusai’s beloved detail he used in his shunga work.

Eiri – Lubricant

Probably the most famous lesbian scene in shunga from Eiri’s excellent oban series Models of Calligraphyconsisting of 12 designs. One of the girls is wearing a huge harigata, which is held by the other girl, while she’s using a lubricant to put on the artificial phallus. Due to its controversial impact at the time (1801) this lesbian shunga scene was omitted from later editions.

Kuniyoshi – Kabuki Mask

A highly unusual lesbian design with the girl on top wearing a kabuki-mask pretending she’s the favourite kabuki actor (a Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp of their day) the other girl is fantasizing about. Two amused women are peeking through a small hole in a sliding door.

Eizan – Lesbian Girl Taken From Behind

In a confined setting two lesbian lovers are having sex. The girl underneath is in an excited state while the girl on top uses the dildo to penetrate her from behind. The on-looking cat is comic detail often used in shunga. (especially by Hokusai and Kuniyoshi)

Eisen – Double-Sided Dildo

Two girls enjoying themselves using a double-sided dildo. In this design both faces of the female protagonists are hidden.

Kuniyoshi – Old Woman

An older woman uses a rather unorthodox way of introducing a young girl into her adult life by grapping her vagina. The shungabooks behind them and the erotic scroll in front of them emphasize the preceding visual education. A design from a shungabook series by Kuniyoshi, published in the 1840s.

Hokusai – Sea-Cucumber

Two awabi (abalone) divers are caught in an intimate moment in this marvellous work of art by Hokusai (dated 1810s). One of the girls uses a sea-cucumber, as a improvised dildo, with the sea in the background as their silent witness. Awabi or Ama diver was (and is) a profession practised by women who dive for pearls.

Shuncho – Tortoise Shell Dildo

This print by Shuncho (published around 1800) has a striking use of color combination with beautiful green accents. The decoration on the folding screen behind this loving lesbian couple gives it a very realistic feel as if they are actually in the open-air. The girl on top is sporting a deluxe tortoise-shell harigata and both are wearing transparant hair ribbons. In the past this print has been falsely attributed to Utamaro.

Kunisada – Awabi Divers at the Sea Shore

In this last shunga print, from an abuna-e (dangerous or risque pictures) like style book designed by Kunisada in c.1840, an image with a more suggestive lesbian undertone. Depicted are four awabidivers fishing for pearls at the sea shore. One of them is holding a knife (for opening the oysters) between her teeth while wringing out her dress while two others are drying themselves near a fire. The pearl diver diving into the waves is beautifully counterbalanced with the breaking waves on the rocks making it such a dynamic scene.

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