Actor picture books and actor-likeness erotica: an examination of Toyokuni I’s erotic book Ehon koi no gakuya

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Abstract

This article introduces the shunpon (erotic book) Koi no gakuya (Backstage love) illustrated throughout with ‘actors’ likenesses’ (yakusha nigao) by Tokyokuni I. Hitherto the contents of this book have been virtually unknown. We only had access to two images from it, which were published by the shunga scholar Hayashi Yoshikazu. Recently, a European book collector acquired copies of this book in Japan and England. His copies have been digitized and may now be accessed and studied in their entirety through the open-access book image database maintained by the Ritsumeikan University Art Research Center. In a previous article I discussed the earliest actor shunpon, Shina kagami (Mirror of Actors) of c.1772 illustrated by Shunshō (Art Research vol. 12). Koi no gakuya is in the same style as Shina kagami. In each case, these books complement the artist’s other publications. This paper, I will establish the publication background of Koi no gakuya, and highlight the similarities between Shina kagami and Koi no gakuya. This will help us to understand the role of actors’ shunpon in the world of early 19th -century actor books.
Translated title of the contributionActor picture books and actor-likeness erotica: an examination of Toyokuni I’s erotic book Ehon koi no gakuya
Original languageOther
Pages (from-to)3
Number of pages33
JournalArt Research
Volume15
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015

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