Katsushika Hokusai

Hokusai was born on the 23rd day of 9th month of the 10th year of the Hōreki period (October or November 1760) to an artisan family, in the Katsushika district of Edo, Japan. His childhood name was Tokitarō. It is believed his father was the mirror-maker Nakajima Ise, who produced mirrors for the shogun. His father never made Hokusai an heir, so it’s possible that his mother was a concubine. Hokusai began painting around the age of six, possibly learning the art from his father, whose work on mirrors also included the painting of designs around the mirrors.

Hokusai was known by at least 30 names during his lifetime. Although the use of multiple names was a common practice of Japanese artists of the time, the numbers of names he used far exceeds that of any other major Japanese artist. Hokusai’s name changes are so frequent, and so often related to changes in his artistic production and style, that they are useful for breaking his life up into periods.

At the age of 12, he was sent by his father to work in a bookshop and lending library, a popular type of institution in Japanese cities, where reading books made from wood-cut blocks was a popular entertainment of the middle and upper classes. At 14, he became an apprentice to a wood-carver, where he worked until the age of 18, whereupon he was accepted into the studio of Katsukawa Shunshō. Shunshō was an artist of ukiyo-e, a style of wood block prints and paintings that Hokusai would master, and head of the so-called Katsukawa school. Ukiyo-e, as practiced by artists like Shunshō, focused on images of the courtesans and Kabuki actors who were popular in Japan’s cities at the time.

After a year, Hokusai’s name changed for the first time, when he was dubbed Shunrō by his master. It was under this name that he published his first prints, a series of pictures of Kabuki actors published in 1779. During the decade he worked in Shunshō’s studio, Hokusai was married to his first wife, about whom very little is known except that she died in the early 1790s. He would marry again in 1797, although this second wife also died after a short time. He fathered two sons and three daughters with these two wives, and his youngest daughter Oyei eventually became an artist like her father.

Upon the death of Shunshō in 1793, Hokusai began exploring other styles of art, including European styles he was exposed to through French and Dutch copper engravings he was able to acquire. He was soon expelled from the Katsukawa school by Shunkō, the chief disciple of Shunshō, possibly due to studies at the rival Kanō school. This event was, in his own words, inspirational: “What really motivated the development of my artistic style was the embarrassment I suffered at Shunkō’s hands.”

Hokusai also changed the subjects of his works, moving away from the images of courtesans and actors that were the traditional subjects of ukiyo-e. Instead, his work became focused on landscapes and images of the daily life of Japanese people from a variety of social levels. This change of subject was a breakthrough in ukiyo-e and in Hokusai’s career.

See more: katsushikahokusai.org



Kagema is a historical Japanese term for young male prostitutes. Kagema were often passed off as apprentice kabuki actors (who were themselves often prostitutes on the side) and catered to a mixed male and female clientele. For male clients, the preferred service was anal sex, with the client taking the penetrative role; homosexual fellatio is almost unmentioned in Tokugawa-era documents. The belief that the anus is a center of sexual energy that could be absorbed by the penetrative partner most likely originates within Chinese texts. Kagema who were not affiliated with an actual kabuki theatre could be hired through male brothels or those teahouses specializing in kagema. Such institutions were known as Kagemajaya (ja). Kagema typically charged more than female prostitutes of equivalent status, and did a healthy trade into the mid-19th century, despite increasing legal restrictions that attempted to contain prostitution (both male and female) in specified urban areas and to dissuade class-spanning relationships, which were viewed as potentially disruptive to traditional social organization.

This increased interest in kagema derives in part from the increased presence of samurai-class men within cities. The garrisoning of thousands of male samurai in the major cities in the early 17th century not only brought the male-love tradition of nanshoku to the common people, but also dramatically shifted the ratio of men to women (peaking at 170 men for every 100 women), which limited the sexual possibilities available to young men and encouraged the spread of nanshoku among middle class men. Kagema themselves were immensely popular with the merchant class and wealthy elite of the Edo period.

Many such prostitutes, as well as many young kabuki actors, were indentured servants sold as children to the brothel or theatre, typically on a ten-year contract. Kagema could be presented as young men (yarō), wakashū (adolescent boys, about 10–18 years old) or as onnagata (female impersonators). James Neill argues that the increasing commercialization of homosexuality in the form of kagema (in addition to increased western influences) assisted in the moral degradation of nanshoku. He argues that rather than representing a form of masculine selflessness, nanshoku became associated with moral stagnancy caused by urban entertainment districts.

Read more: revolvy.com

Hajime Sorayama


Hajime Sorayama

“Illustration and erotism”
Hajime Sorayama is known world-wide for his imaginative and highly accomplished paintings of beautiful women. Using brush, pencil and acrylic paint, airbrushing only finishing details, he creates memorable images in a hyper-realistic style. He is often referred to as the contemporary Vargas by those familiar with his pin-up style works, and is respected by artists and illustrators for his perfect technique. Hajime Sorayama was born in 1947 in Imabari, Ehime prefecture, Japan. He received his basic education at Imabari Kita High School. In 1965 he was admitted to the Shikoku Gakuin University, where he began to study Greek and English literature. In 1967, after the publication of his first work, Pink Journal, he transferred to Tokyo’s Chuo Art School where he began to study art.Sorayama graduated in 1968 at the age of 21, and gained an appointment in an advertising agency. He became a freelance illustrator in 1972.[1] In 1978 he drew his first robot. He resides in Tokyo and has licensing offices in New York City

Read More: www.sorayama.jp