Shunga & In the Realm of the Senses

🇹🇭 ภาษาไทย

Topics about sex are considered taboo topics in Asia especially because the culture in most Asian countries prides in high morality. However, sex should not only be viewed as a taboo topic as it could in most cases inspire creativity.

In the Realm of the Senses (1976)

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It’s been 40 years and the works of a Japanese teacher and director Nagisa Oshima (Nagisa Oshima) are widely talked about. She made a film based on a true story about a girl: Sada Abe, who was found in the streets of Tokyo with what was believed to be her lover’s genitals. Her arrest caught the attention of the media and made Sada a “Heroine” in Japan at the time.

The movie tells the story of Sada Abe played by (Eiko Matsuda), a former prostitute who turned into a maid and her lover Kichizo “Kishi” Ishida played by  (Tatsuya). Kishi was the owner of a traditional Japanese Inn in Tokyo where Sada worked. Kishi was known to be a womanizer. When he made his move on Sade, they quickly formed a bond and fell into a deep whirlpool of passion that ended in violence. Sade, who was impressed by Kishi as a lover, could not stand the thought of him going back to his wife and so she planned to kill him. 

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Since the storyline involved sexual content throughout the film, with some scenes showing bizarre acts of torture, the film was banned in Cinemas with the argument that this was “hardcore porn”. Despite its ban, this remains one of Nagisa Oshima’s best-known works, scandalous and all.

Despite its explicit sexual content, the movie had hidden criticism towards politics in japan at the time. For example, in a scene where Kishi (who went out of his room with no clothes), staggered to the reception, marching the  Japanese military march. He was oblivious to the soldiers standing outside as they were of him. (The time in the movie is 1936 when the Imperialist army of Japan invaded mainland China and went forward into the Great East Asian war in full in the following year). In regards to the marching scene, the director decided to add this to show that the character in the story does not care. That shows that the boundaries between them and their realities gradually diminish, and the danger of the preoccupation with something inexhaustible can limit the variety of lifestyle until it completely dominates them. This is a parable of Japan where they lived at that time who are fascinated by the greatness of their own nation until they decide to lead the country into war and with this inexhaustible obsession it brought them so far until they lost their minds. It became a summary of the most shocking and ultimately horrifying fate in both the film and the fate of Japan’s history.

On the other hand, the story of Sada became a sensation and fascination in Japanese society at that time. In political and social terms, her story and the film itself were brought up to take advantage of both the left and right. Both in terms of opposition to masculine dictatorship and was an illustration of paying attention to the values ​​of the family institution. While Oshima himself used it as a form of informed censorship challenge. With content that explores and digs deep into the human mind, It also exposes the emptiness of life and severely criticizes the nonsense of war. It was also referred to as an anti-war movie, foreign expressions like “Make Love Not War” that are popular with each other,  look good and not playful but only request to not emulate the end of the movie. It’s frightening!

Another interesting thing is Oshima was inspired by the film’s visual and artistic elements from a traditional Japanese art called “Shunga” (春 画 Shunga), a Japanese eccentric art. It is in a branch of traditional art known as ukiyoe. Shunga is mainly made with woodcut prints or drawings on fabric rolls. Shunga literally translates as ‘Spring Pictures’, which means having sex. Shunga is often created by a master artist. The art presents a wide variety of images of the occurrence from the ordinary to the strange and sometimes with humor but full of aesthetic values not in the slightest of piety.

Notable Shunga artists are also known as Utamaro or Kitagawa Utamaro (喜 多 川 歌 麿 Kitagawa Utamaro). His Shunga paintings are distinguished by their exquisite appearance details. A couple of colorful garments, exquisite patterns, and sensual dances and sexual fantasies. His most famous work is Utamakura (歌 ま く ら Utamakura) or the poet beside the pillow (1788). A collection of 12 shunga prints and poetry that depicts revelatory eroticism. The most famous and well-known Shunga artist is Hokusai or Katsushikahokusai (葛 飾 北 斎 Katsushika Hokusai), in addition to being the master of Ukiyo-e paintings, with work on sodomy, with exquisite details and compositions, masterful aesthetics and an intimate and eccentric miracle. Making him the master of Shunga as well.

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Especially the picture The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife (蛸 と 海 女 Tako to ama) (1814), also known as The ‘waterman and octopus’, is a woodblock print depicting zoophilia sex. It depicts a naked female scallop, being caressed, and remade by two octopus. The smaller one on the left is sucking on her lips while the larger one on the right was using the tentacles to tighten her body and lick her genitals. The letters on the picture describe the sexual pleasures that she and they enjoy as a result of this. Art scholars have noted that the picture was inspired by Japanese folklore telling the story of a hermaphrodite woman who dived down to steal jewels from the palace of the undersea dragon god. This was very popular in the Edo period.

This is the progenitor of a type of Japanese art and culture that presents the tales of human and limbal syndromes (Tentacle erotica), which are very popular in Japanese modern cultures such as anime, manga, and Others. This work by Hokusai was an inspiration for many later artists, even Western artists like Félicien Rops, Auguste Rodin, Louis Aucoc, Fernand Khnopff, And Pablo Picasso. Picasso himself used to paint pictures of a waterman and octopus. His own version was displayed alongside the original image of Hokusai in the exhibition. ‘The 19th-century Japanese artists’ was the inspiration for the work of Picasso’ in 2003.

With society in that era, Sex was part of everyday life. Therefore, sexual activity imagery could be linked to common activities such as food. Occupation To engaging in sexually explicit activities such as clam sex and, of course, the frank and honest depiction of the sex scene. This allows shunga artists to convey these stories freely.

Shunga influenced the Showa and Heisei era through the modern and present era and influenced the sympathetic media known around the world, such as Hentai (変 態 Hentai), as well as inspired many generations of artists. With a wide variety of themes and deep sexual stories (to the extreme) without a framework of morality to determine.

If anyone tries to look at many pictures of Shunga on the Internet, they will understand why the Japanese confront media such as porn books, erotic movies, porn movies, AV movies, anime, manga, and why Hentai is the way it is today. I can only say that My imagination is overwhelming!


หนังสือ: Sex and the Floating World: Erotic Images in Japan 1700-1820 เขียนโดย Timon Screech

หนังสือ: Floating World: Japan in the Edo Period เขียนโดย John Reeve พิมพ์โดย BRITISH MUSEUM

หนังสือ: Hokusai by Gian Carlo Calza / Hokusai Katsushika สำนักพิมพ์ Phaidon, 2003, [2004]

หนังสือ: คัทซึชิคะ โฮะคุไซ โดย ชัยยศ อิษฏ์วรพันธุ์ สํานักพิมพ์ สารคดีภาพ, 2552

บทความพิเศษ: เมื่อไม่มีขน ฉันจึงเป็นศิลปะ (9) นิตยสารมติชนสุดสัปดาห์ ฉบับวันที่ 24 – 30 ธ.ค. 2553 เขียนโดย ธเนศ วงศ์ยานนาวา

บทความ: อุคิโยเอะ โดย ชัยยศ อิษฏ์วรพันธุ์  วารสาร ญี่ปุ่นสาร ฉบับที่ 71 กรกฎาคม – กันยายน 2011

การ์ตูน จิน หมอทะลุมิติ NED COMICS




1 – 6. In the Realm of the Senses (1976) นางิสะ โอชิมา

7 – 8. อุตามาโร: Poem of the Pillow (1788) ภาพจาก https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utamakura_(Utamaro)

9. อุตามาโร: Prelude to Desire (1799) ภาพจาก https://www.wikiart.org/en/kitagawa-utamaro/prelude-to-desire-1799 

10. อุตามาโร: Secret Affair between a Married Man and a Married Woman (1799) ภาพจาก https://pixels.com/featured/secret-affair-between-a-married-man-and-a-married-woman-1799-kitagawa-utamaro.html 

11. อิโซดะ โคริวไซ: (Isoda Koryūsai) Cold Day in Winter (1775) ภาพพิมพ์แม่พิมพ์ไม้สี, ภาพจาก https://www.roningallery.com/cold-day-in-winter 

12. ซูซูกิ ฮารุโนบุ: (Suzuki Harunobu) Lovers with Rutting Cats, ภาพพิมพ์แม่พิมพ์ไม้สี จากอัลบั้มชุงกะ Komatsu-ya Hyakki, Furyu koshoku maneemon (1765), ภาพจาก https://edo-g.com/blog/2015/11/shunga.html 

13. ภาพชุงกะพิมพ์แม่พิมพ์ไม้ในยุคเมจิ ที่แสดงภาพชายที่มีทรงผมแบบตะวันตกร่วมรักกับหญิงสาวในชุดญี่ปุ่นแบบประเพณี ภาพจาก https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Meiji_Period_Shunga.jpg 

14. โฮะกุไซ: The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife (1814) ภาพจาก https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shunga 


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