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Katsushika Hokusai and Nobuyoshi Araki: Who is the more erotic? Part 3 of Hokusai

Katsushika Hokusai and Nobuyoshi Araki: Who is the more erotic?  Part 3 of Hokusai

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Katsushika Hokusai was born in 1760 and Nobuyoshi Araki was born in 1940 and today Araki still continues to take photo images. Hokusai is famously known throughout the world for The Great Wave off Kanagawa and his Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji. However, Araki is known for his sexual images and the unique erotic styles that he often takes but Araki is much more diverse than this because his work involves many different forms of photography.

Hokusai and Araki were born in different Japan’s but sexual artistic flair can be witnessed by both individuals because sexual images and erotic art forms belong to aspects of their respective work. 

Both individuals were born in Tokyo and while Hokusai is famous for non-erotic forms of art to most lay people the same can’t be said about Araki because Tokyo Lucky Hole is either extremely erotic or pornographic depending on your viewpoint. 

Irrespective if we use the word “erotic” or “pornographic” because people have different sensibilities the fact remains that Araki is extremely gifted and creative.  Like all photographers the artist will either appeal or not appeal. However, Araki is clearly showing a sexual and seedy side of Tokyo which not only exists but is quite prevalent in many main areas in modern day Tokyo.

Their different art forms can’t be compared because both were born in very different societies and technology, thought patterns, environmental differences and countless other factors, means that it is unfair to compare and counterproductive.

However, it is abundantly clear that the “erotic” side of aspects of their work is a uniting factor and both are famous sons of Tokyo. Yet, in the image of most art lovers both clearly have a distinctive connotation and mystery and while the “erotic” and seedy side of Tokyo creates image of Araki in the mind; it is clear that for most people Hokusai is deemed to be “a classical artist” and one of the most famous artists that graced the soil of Japan. 

Indeed the word “artist” and “contemporary artist” is also subjective because while Hokusai will smoothly fit into the word “artist” you will have different opinions towards Araki.  This applies to stating that Araki is a “contemporary artist” but for conservative individuals Araki will be tainted by the word “pornography.” Also, the vagueness of “contemporary artist” means that it is difficult to define in the absolute sense because different thought patterns view the world differently.  

The first time I ever saw work by Araki was in Manchester, England, when I viewed Tokyo Lucky Hole when I was around 19 years old.  My first impression, and coming from a non-artist background at the time, was “wow” and these ladies look “so hot” therefore for myself I viewed this to be pornographic when I was young but I did find it in the art section.

However, the more you view aspects of Araki’s work then it does become abundantly clear that in his field he is extremely talented and not everything is what it seems. 

In my article called “Nobuyoshi Araki shows the cultural side of Tokyo in the flesh” I state that Araki “…goes much further because this famous photographer opens up a Tokyo which is often neglected or not imagined.  He also fuses his photography with the landscape of Tokyo amidst naked bodies or ladies being tied up and his imagery is clearly powerful.”

“Therefore, Nobuyoshi Araki is also focusing on the emptiness of entertainment districts and the sex industry; albeit from an erotic human form and the energy and visual nature of his photography expresses many emotions.”

“Like any artist; people will see different things within his photography and while some people will gain from his works others may reject him on various grounds.  However, if you look deeper into his work then Nobuyoshi Araki is providing a real glimpse into a Tokyo which exists and not only this, he does this by creating a rare energy within simplistic and complex themes.”

Hokusai is in reverse because my first contact with the work of Hokusai was when I viewed The Great Wave off Kanagawa and Fuji in Clear Weather and this was followed by the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. Immediately I liked Hokusai because the sheer power of The Great Wave off Kanagawa was striking.  I therefore believed that Hokusai was similar to John Constable (a classical artist from England who was born in 1776) who painted The Hay Wain and Dedham Vale and many other classic paintings.

Yet, many years later I viewed the The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife by Hokusai and other images from Kinoe No Komatsu which is a collection of shunga.  I was shocked because I never understood this side of Hokusai and The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife is not only erotic but it mind boggling because of the perverse nature of what is happening.  

In my article called “Katsushika Hokusai and erotic art: The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife (Part 2 of Hokusai)” I comment that “The image shows a lady who was deemed to be a shell diver (ama) with her legs wide apart while the fully grown octopus performs cunnilingus.  She is fully naked and her breasts and hairy pussy are clearly visible and her body is clearly welcoming both the fully grown octopus and the small and younger octopus.”

“The eyes of the fully grown octopus are really striking because while performing cunnilingus on the lady it is clear that the eyes are fully focused on her face and pleasure and satisfaction belong to both.”

“It is suggested that the small octopus may be the son and if so then this makes the sexual experience even more erotic to some or alternatively “on the edge” for others.  Either way, only Hokusai really knows the role of the small octopus but it is clear that the lady is enjoying the power of the fully grown octopus and the magical touch of the younger octopus which is fondling her nipple and mouth.”

“Her face depicts complete sexual bliss and in the image it appears that nature and humans are one and the same.  Yes, visually different; however, enjoying the sexual experience together.”                                                                                  

“The image which is graphic is also based on consent, pleasure, joy, and bliss.”

Other images by Hokusai are also extremely sexual and graphic between people having sex and maybe just like Araki showing the seedy side of modern Tokyo it could be said that Hokusai was also doing the same.  However, the image where a woman is happily spreading her pussy so that she can feel the pleasure of an octopus and clearly feeling orgasmic; then for myself this image is not only mind boggling it is mysterious, perverse, erotic and showing images of pleasure all into one image. 

The scholar Danielle Talerico desires to put this image into the context of the Princess Tamatori story which was well-known in the Edo period. However, Hokusai may have played on this in order to create something else because in the Princess Tamatori story she dies from her wounds.  However, in Hokusai’s work it is clear that sexual pleasure and mutual gratification is taking place and the image does not show fear.

This is getting away from the point of Hokusai and Araki and the question of who is the more erotic.  Of course, people will have different opinions and again time, environment and other factors will make the judgment difficult.

Also, because of the very nature of art and different thought patterns then some may deem Hokusai to be “a master artist” or “a perverted artist” when it came to shunga. The same applies to Araki because to some people his work is “erotic art” but to others it is “pornography” and not artistic. Also, can aspects of pornography be deemed to be artistic?

This minefield does not belong to this article and despite all the sexual images by Araki I believe that Hokusai’s work was more erotic and this applies to many images from his Kinoe No Komatsu collection.  More to the point, the image of The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife is in a different dimension to anything that Araki created.

Obviously both individuals have created their work within themselves and their respective work is not based on competition with anyone.  However, the point is that while Hokusai remains within the fold of “classical artist” it is clear that Araki “is on the edge” and either he is well liked or disregarded. 

Yet, if Araki is disregarded based on his subject matter then clearly the same does not apply to Hokusai.  Both individual have opened up a door to “a hidden Japan” which is “not so hidden” for people who reside in major cities like Tokyo and Osaka. 

However, when it comes to erotic images then The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife by Hokusai takes some beating and the power of this image remains today.   (Hokusai)  (Hokusai) (images taken from this website when applies to Araki but photos remain within the search engine but problems with modern website)


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Posted by on June 24, 2011 in Japan


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Tokyo and the booming sex trade: the mirage of reality

Tokyo and the booming sex trade: the mirage of reality

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

If you reside in Tokyo or visit this highly developed city then on the surface it appears that peacefulness abounds and that Tokyo is conservative.  However, the truth could not be further because the sex trade is flourishing and it is either in the open or hidden from sight.

Buzzing parts of Tokyo like Ikebukuro are full of seedy love hotels and you have so many diverse places to visit within the vast compass of the sex trade.  Now Shibuya is becoming engulfed by the sex trade and you have countless websites, sexual matching services, and so forth; which is mainly aimed at the domestic market.

What is more surprising is that many buildings may look normal from the outside and it appears that only trade is happening or only usual companies exist.  However, this is not the case and so much remains hidden and is discreet.

Of course you get “red light areas” and open images of sexy ladies in parts of Ikebukuro, Ueno, Shinjuku, and other parts of Tokyo; however, many other parts of the sex trade looks highly respectable and it would be difficult to imagine the reality of what is really happening.

In up market Ginza you have the legendary “Ginza ladies” and you will see enjo kosai because many bankers and financial workers with high salaries work in Ginza, Nihonbashi, and Yurakcho.  Therefore, money is awash and given the availability of so many beautiful ladies and high rolling businessmen; then obviously a powerful market exists.

I have lived in Manchester and London, and other major cities. However, while you have pockets of the sex trade in both cities is does not compare with Tokyo.  Indeed, you have “used panty” vending machines in some areas of the sex trade in Tokyo and it is difficult to image such a thing in England.

It is reported that the sex trade generates $15 billion dollars a year in Japan but it is not just the enormous money that it generates which is astonishing; it is the diversity on offer.  This applies to brothels which come under so many different names and this applies to image rooms, soaplands, pink salons, delivery health, and a vast number of names and services are provided.

Therefore, you can easily visit a fake train carriage and grope ladies in your “chikan heaven” or you can buy used panties at vending machines or visit a place and pick married women and so much more.

Not only this, you have seedy love hotels all over Tokyo and throughout Japan.  Not all love hotels are seedy and many are used by lovers or married couples who have problems with meeting.  This applies to living with parents for the younger generation or couples who have children and little privacy.

Yet in places like Ikebukuro you can meet a lady for sex outside either the local police station or wherever you want.  After all, the police tend to leave people alone and then you can visit an abundance of seedy love hotels.

Not only this, many love hotels on the west side of Ikebukuro are within the residential area and clearly shame is not an issue.  Therefore, I often see ladies dressed in long black leggings, short skirts and looking very sexy and it is abundantly clear that the older male or similar aged male is neither a boyfriend or their marriage partner.

Everything seems so natural and nobody appears to care therefore you can rent places for a few hours and then leave.  Everything is tailor made for the sex industry to flourish and enjo kosai is also powerful.

Some pink establishments cater to the whims of their clients and are open 24 hours a day. Also, some pink establishments provide alibis to wives who provide a sexual service and the same applies to mothers and girlfriends.   

Despite anti-prostitutions laws in Japan the police have adopted a relaxed approach and they rarely intervene.  Also, it is clear that language manipulation is allowed and even illegal sexual joints are left alone in the main.

Japanese female sex trade workers are a little unique because the underclass is very small in Japan and drug abuse is still minor when compared to nations like America or Iran.  Therefore, most ladies come from middle class backgrounds and you have many housewives involved in the sex trade or very young adult teens are involved in enjo kosai.

In places like Kabukicho in Tokyo it is clear that Chinese gangs have become involved in the sex trade and the Japanese yakuza appear to have separate zones of influence within the sex trade.

Foreign women sex workers often face brutal conditions because they were either tricked into prostitution and many have been forced into the sex trade.  Many reside in terrible conditions and Japanese immigration appears to care little about this fact and if they run away to the police in Japan then they face deportation.

Turning back to internal sex trade workers in Tokyo then the Yoshiwara district is famous for soapland workers and the same applies to pink salons and delivery health services. 

Pink salons applies to ladies dressed with little on and performing oral sex in areas where the lights are low; and this business is flourishing.  Health applies to places where you partake in nude bathing with a sexy lady or sexual services are provided but not full intercourse.  Therefore, “health” denotes being a place where sexual diseases can be prevented and this is aimed at reassuring the client.

Image rooms is what it sounds like and Japanese men in Tokyo can visit fake crowded subways in order to grope and touch ladies or they can be in a specially designed car and fulfill their dream. 

Some ladies in image rooms will dress up like nurses, school girls, waitresses, manga characters, and so forth.  You also have “baby play” whereby willing customers fulfill their desire to be in a diaper and treated like a baby and of course given the sexual nature, then breast feeding is an added cost.

S and M clubs are also popular amongst salarymen, company bigwigs, bureaucrats and other types of employment and you can also find dominatrix clubs.

Sexual cabaret clubs are based in many parts of Tokyo and you have “no-pan shabu restaurants” where waitresses have no panties on and very short skirts and for a strong tip they will bend over for the client or clients.

Indeed, Japanese men have a thing about food and women because you have “kaitzenzushi kuabakura” which is a combination of fast food and a sex club.  This applies to young ladies being dressed like chiefs and they will expose their breasts and let you fondle them.

Sex is main-stream and Japan’s largest video rental chain, Tsutaya, provides vast numbers of new releases each month of new porn films.  Of course, in the same shop you will find children buying Mickey Mouse films.

If you want to compare the sex trade with America then remember that in America you have around 300 million people compared to 127 million people in Japan.  However, despite this, in America they produce 2,500 new porn videos a year but in Japan it is roughly 14,000 videos. 

If you maximize this with the population then the ratio would be 2,500 in America to well over 30,000 a year in Japan.

In truth, you have an abundance of areas where the sex trade flourishes and you also have only women sex shops whereby they can pick sexual aides or videos to suit their needs.

Tokyo may seem like a gentle and tranquil city where crime is very low and everything looks rather conservative.  However, in Tokyo, and throughout Japan, the sex trade business is thriving and the array of services is huge and this is all backed up by a police force which cares little and laws which have little meaning.

Yet, true to the nature of Tokyo it happens without the feel of danger or that it is upsetting the balance within this highly developed and beautiful city.

Therefore, the Japanese way of “compromise” is working because nearly every area of Tokyo is highly developed, very clean and drug issues are minor and the crime rate is very low.

In truth, you will not find a more highly developed city than Tokyo in the world which is buzzing with energy and where the infrastructure works. Also, negative social issues like crime and drugs are very low and the quality of life is very high. (please visit)


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Posted by on May 8, 2011 in Japan


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