Spring Pastimes

Posted on December 5, 2010


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The Japanese samurai tradition included the practice of shudō, in which warriors took teenage lovers, similar to the ancient Greeks. Eventually, the practice expanded to include the merchant classes, who took as their lovers young kabuki actors who portrayed women on stage and served as prostitutes and courtesans offstage.

Miyagawa Isshō’s screen “Spring Pastimes” from c. 1750 is in the shunga genre common to the time – shunga meaning “pictures of spring” with spring being a metaphor for sex. This particular screen, likely specially commissioned, shows purely men-on-men love.

Read more about the screen at Gay Art History, here.

Posted in: 18th Century, Art, Gay, Japan