These are probably the most sought-after prints depicting love between women and women among all the subjects and themes found in shunga (Japanese erotic prints, books, and paintings).In discussing the following ten lesbian-oriented shunga designs in this article, two prints are included (the first and the last) that are more evocative and less explicit, but in my opinion, with their eye for feminine beauty and comedic detail, they are a perfect supplement to this specific theme. Kuniyoshi’s

Nursing Scene

A comical depiction of a dressing room in a brothel depicts the activities of five courtesans joking with one of their sleeping colleagues. Note the grumpy facial expression of the courtesan on the left, tending her mons veneris. This 1840s design fully showcases Kuniyoshi’s comic genius.


From Hokusai’s classic shunga ehon (book) series, Kinoe no komatsu (Young Pine Saplings), published in 1814, which also includes his famous Octopus design, a passionate lesbian encounter between two young women They are in a very close embrace, with the girl below in an almost ecstatic pose. The girl on top is wearing an a

harigata (dildo). The wrinkled underwear was Hokusai’s favourite detail that he used in his shunga work.

Eiri—LubricantThis is most likely Eiri—Lubricant.

the most famous lesbian scene in shunga, from Eiri’s excellent oban series of models of calligraphy, consisting of 12 designs. One of the girls wears a huge harigata, which is held by the other girl while she uses lubricant to attract the artificial phallus. Due to its controversial impact at the time (1801), this lesbian shunga scene was omitted from later editions.

Kuniyoshi-Kabuki Mask: a

highly unusual lesbian design with the girl on top wearing a kabuki mask and pretending to be the favourite kabuki actor (a Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp of their day) that the other girl fantasises about. Two amused women peek through a small hole in a sliding door.

Eizan-Lesbian girl taken from behind

Two lesbian lovers have sex in a private setting. The girl below is aroused as the girl on top uses the dildo to penetrate her from behind. The cat looking up is a comic detail often used in shunga. (mainly by Hokusai and Kuniyoshi). Requirements:

Double-Sided Dildo

Two girls have fun using a double-sided dildo. In this design, both the faces of the female protagonist are hidden.

Kuniyoshi-Old woman

An older woman uses a rather unorthodox way of introducing a young girl into her adult life by grasping her vagina. The shunga books behind it and the erotic scroll in front of it emphasise the preceding visual education. A design from a shungabook series by Kuniyoshi, published in the 1840s.

Hokusai-Sea cucumber Two

awabi (abalone) divers are captured in an intimate moment in this beautiful artwork by Hokusai (dating from 1810). One of the girls uses a sea cucumber as a makeshift dildo, with the sea in the background as a silent witness. Awabi, or Ama diver, was (and is) a profession practised by women when diving for pearls.

Shuncho-Turtle dildo

This print by Shuncho (published around 1800) has a striking use of colour with beautiful green accents. The decoration on the folding screen behind this loving lesbian couple gives it a very realistic feeling, as if they are really out in the open. The girl on top wears a luxurious turtle shell hairigata, and both of them wear transparent hair ribbons. In the past, this print was wrongly attributed to Utamaro.

Kunisada-Awabi Divers on the Coast

In this latest shunga print, from an abuna-e (dangerous or risque photos) style book designed by Kunisada in ca. 1840, an image with a more suggestive lesbian undertone. Depicted are four awabi divers fishing for pearls on the coast. One of them holds a knife (to open the oysters) between her teeth as she wrings out her dress, while the other two dry off by a fire. This scene is so interesting because of how the pearl diver is dangling from a boat in the water and the waves breaking on the rocks.