"Shunga" is the traditional Japanese term for erotic paintings and prints. The history of shunga dates back as far as the Heian Period (794-1185) in which my book is set. They were Japan’s first sex manuals. When a woman in classical Japan got married, her parents would give her shunga as a guide book on her wifely duties; instruction in the etiquette of her new phase in life. While no prints from the Heian era exist, a few reproductions of those earlier works have been found. But most were created after that in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
These pictures are frequently tender, beautiful and funny~or grossly explicit in imagery (still funny). Sizes of anatomy change and become accentuated amidst a flurry of clothing being waded through, or rather, under. The impossible contortions are laughable.
But people believed they brought good luck. Warriors carried them, hoping to ward off death.
This is a shunga with a samurai and his lady (note his topknot and swords)
So why am I writing about this on my countdown? (two days to go) The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon was one of the books that inspired me to write HAIKU DANCE. While her book is called The Pillow Book, the term pillow books refers to the shunga that ladies kept under their pillows; the pillow pictures. But Sei’s book is her written diary~an intimate look at the experiences and outlook of the Heian upper class at the time my novel is set. And there was a lot of bed hopping going on.
So while I initially wanted to refer to my book as an erotic love story, the term erotic has a different meaning in today’s romance literature~more on the kinky side (Hello Fifty Shades), which my novel is not. But there are explicit love scenes. So, it's not for those under 18.
Tell me, what do you think about shunga~is it art or pornography? Or had you ever even heard of it before?