Shunga-1, handscroll

Katsuyama Takugen18th century, Edo period

Tachibana Museum

Tachibana Museum
Fukuoka-ken, Japan

This picture scroll has been handed down in the Tachibana family, the former daimyo (feudal lords) of the Yanagawa domain. It is unclear who owned it and when.
Against the seasonal features, scenes of love-makings between men and women of various statuses are shown here in a row. They are painted on silk with high-quality paint, and depicted in every detail. This elaborately made work can be said to be a suitable piece for the daimyo class family.

It consists of 12 pictures like the common ukiyo-e shunga (woodblock erotic prints). However, it doesn’t contain any captions and exaggerated depiction of a sexual organ, instead expresses stories of each couple’s intimacy without words in relatively moderate depiction. Despite of the erotic scenes, the pictures as a whole are filled with warm and gentle atmosphere, and even dignity. This balance between an open feeling and modesty seems to represent a happiness of love-making.

In the fifth picture from the right, a folding screen with landscape painting is depicted behind the couple. We can see signature and seal on the landscape painting.
The signature tells ‘From the brush of Takugen of Hokyo rank’. Katsuyama Takugen (1747-1824) was an active painter of the Kano school in Kyoto. We presume he was the creator of this picture scroll. Takugen held the rank of Hokyo between 1775-1801, which suggests that this work was created during that period.


  • Title: Shunga-1, handscroll
  • Creator: Katsuyama Takugen
  • Date Created: 18th century, Edo period
  • Physical Dimensions: 32.6×586.9 cm
  • Type: Painting

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