Tsukioka Sessai 月岡雪齋 (d. 1839)
The New Origin of Dōjōji Temple (Shin dōjōji engi)
Japan, Edo period (1615–1868), c. 1750s–1780s
Handscroll; ink and color on paper
Purchase, Richard Lane Collection, 2003

Sessai’s work is a parody of The Origin of Dōjōji Temple Handscroll (Dōjōji Engi Emaki, 15th century). A warning about the dangers of worldly desire, the tale revolved around an ascetic monk named Anchin who professed his love to the young woman Kiyohime and, before embarking upon a long journey, promised to return to her. When he failed to keep his promise, Kiyohime’s rage transformed her into a serpent. In that supernatural form, she pursued Anchin to Dōjōji Temple, and when he attempted to hide beneath the temple bell, she wrapped herself around the bell and breathed fire upon it, frying him to death. The original story continued to describe how both Anchin and Kiyohime were granted salvation through the power of the Lotus Sutra, but many popular versions of the story conclude with Anchin’s horrific death.

Sessai’s grisly, erotic parody of this story involves a simple gender reversal. Kiyohime’s parents invite Anchin to marry their daughter, and a wedding ceremony is performed. When they retire to their bedroom, however, Kiyohime is horrified by the enormity of Anchin’s penis and runs away. Enraged by her rejection, Anchin and his penis, which has now grown to the size of a serpent, pursue her, and when Kiyohime hides within the bell of Dōjōji Temple, Anchin wraps his penis around the bell and rapes her.

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