The nation’s first major exhibition of shunga (erotic art) will take place later this year at a museum in Tokyo following the success of a similar show recently held at the British Museum in London in late 2013, organizers said. Entry will be restricted to those 18 or older.
The exhibition of sexually explicit works mainly from the Edo Period (1603-1868) will feature about 120 shunga (literally “spring pictures”) in the form of wood prints and paintings depicting men and women having sex in various settings.
They include works by renowned ukiyo-e artists Katsushika Hokusai and Kitagawa Utamaro, who were active in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
About half of the 170 pieces shown at the British Museum will appear.
Shunga were once banned in Japan as obscene. The taboo continues to persist, as about 10 facilities declined to host the exhibition, sources said. The proposal was finally accepted by the Eisei-Bunko Museum in Tokyo, where the exhibition is scheduled to open on Sept. 19 and run through Dec. 23.
Tadashi Kobayashi, chief of the International Ukiyo-e Society, welcomed the news, calling shunga “the world’s preeminent painting for adults’ pleasure.”