Yesterday I ran a Kinky Women’s Sausagefest. This is when a group of pervy ladies go devour a bunch of links at a restaurant such as Wurstküche, although if any of us had been packing it might have gone on to be even more than that. Among the stories and gossip and sausage jokes was some talk about going to see the new Hokusai exhibit at LACMA. It seemed promising. Every Japanophile worth her salt knows The Great Wave and I hadn’t been to LACMA in ages.
All those views of Mt. Fuji and waterfalls in the provinces reminded me of ukiyo-e, the Japanese style of erotic woodblock prints I’d found so unerotic as a teenager (more on that another day). Imagine my surprise to find that many ukiyo-e were attributed to Hokusai, including one of the most famous images to come out of that period: The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife.
Now google this and you will see the inspiration for every tentacle-porn manga that has ever been made (more about this later, too). But what you’ll also find is the Wikipedia entry containing the Japanese title: Tako to Ama (蛸と海女). I find this really interesting because all is means is Octopus and Diver. It’s a long jump between the Japanese and the English titles and I can’t help but speculate about how it got to be that way.
Tako to Ama was part of a large volume of erotic prints by Hokusai first published in 1814. Japan maintained a policy of seclusion from 1633 to 1854 under the laws of the Tokugawa shogunate. Although not totally closed to foreigners, those most likely to have been in Japan at the time were missionaries and merchants. Was it the second class of men who first saw this forbidden image? I’d imagine that even the saltiest sailors might have been taken aback to see a naked woman having congress with a pair of
octopi octopodes octopuses.
It might be difficult for European men of this era to contemplate a lady actually enjoying sex — let alone sex with a cephalopod. If you have any doubt about this, look at her expression. Note the position of her arms. The diver is grasping the tentacles in order to steady herself or maybe pull the octopus closer. To those who surmise she was overpowered by the octopus. I can only offer the following translation of the text that encircles these three:
LARGE OCTOPUS: My wish comes true at last, this day of days; finally I have you in my grasp! Your “bobo” is ripe and full, how wonderful! Superior to all others! To suck and suck and suck some more. After we do it masterfully, I’ll guide you to the Dragon Palace of the Sea God and envelop you. “Zuu sufu sufu chyu chyu chyu tsu zuu fufufuuu…”
MAIDEN: You hateful octopus! Your sucking at the mouth of my womb makes me gasp for breath! Aah! yes… it’s…there!!! With the sucker, the sucker!! Inside, squiggle, squiggle, oooh! Oooh, good, oooh good! There, there! Theeeeere! Goood! Whew! Aah! Good, good, aaaaaaaaaah! Not yet! Until now it was I that men called an octopus! An octopus! Ooh! Whew! How are you able…!? Ooh! “yoyoyooh, saa… hicha hicha gucha gucha, yuchyuu chyu guzu guzu suu suuu….”
LARGE OCTOPUS: All eight limbs to intertwine with!! How do you like it this way? Ah, look! The inside has swollen, moistened by the warm waters of lust. “Nura nura doku doku doku…”
MAIDEN: Yes, it tingles now; soon there will be no sensation at all left in my hips. Ooooooh! Boundaries and borders gone! I’ve vanished….!!!!!!
SMALL OCTOPUS: After daddy finishes, I too want to rub and rub my suckers at the ridge of your furry place until you disappear and then I’ll suck some more. “chyu chyu..”
Can there be any doubt that this chick is getting off on this incestuous, squishy love? If there is, your name must be Tom. But that might not the most bizarre thing about this print to the Christian eyes of the Napoleonic Era. It was that the woman made a living for herself and her family from her own work, doing something not a lot of men could do. To top it all off, the woman wasn’t even married!
I have a feeling that this heady combination of female eroticism and power was too much for western men of that time. And so, because we can’t be held accountable for the crazy things our subconsciouses throw at us, a fantasy became a dream. A worker became a help-meet. A maiden became a wife.
Featured image and transation via Wikipedia.