Isoda Koryusai, Backstage

Isoda Koryusai, fl. ca. 1764-1789


one sheet from an untitled series; a dynamic composition with a young sanbaso dancer in full costume including the mask of Okina (a bearded old man) in a rush to make love, his kotsuzumi (hourglass drum) hangs from a kimono rack, and his suzu (bell-tree) is tossed to the floor, ca. 1770-71

chuban yoko-e 8 1/4 by 11 1/8 in., 21.1 by 28.2 cm

Backstage an Okina dancer is eager for a quickie before he has to go on stage. His lover tries to reason with him: "Somebody is watching, somebody might come! No! No!" But he is frantic: "But I can't stop it! Please let me do it! Please! Please!" To the left past a curtain is the stage entrance and beyond a railing the spectators mill about chatting. Perhaps they are waiting for a performance of a festival version of the kyogen play Okina which was traditionally staged in the first three days of the New Year. The audience members have noticed something is causing a delay and comment that the performance should have started by now.

This composition is very similar to a two-page illustration from Koryusai's three volume set Ehon iro haru koma published in 1774.

This impression published:
Klompmakers, Japanese Erotic Prints, 2001, p. 85, cat. C.3
Uhlenbeck and Winkel, Japanese Erotic Fantasies, 2005, p. 101, no. 23b

Shirakura, Eiri shunga ehon mokuroku, 2007, p. 92



Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays by appointment only

Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit between 11am and 4pm for no more than two individuals at a time.
In order to adhere to New York State guidelines visitors are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing.

site last updated
May 5, 2021

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475