Unidentified Artist 作者未詳
Untold Stories in Japanese Mythology
Japan, Edo period (1615–1868), late 19th century
Album; ink and color on silk
Purchase, Richard Lane Collection, 2003

Fukurokuju, the god of luck, who is easily identified by his provocatively shaped forehead, kneels as Hotei, the ever-joyful god of wealth, prepares to mount him. Their shaven heads indicate that both figures are fully mature men, making this comical scene one of the earliest depictions of male homosexuality in the history of Japanese art. Many scholars avoid describing images of nanshoku (literally, “male love”), such as the print by Yanagawa Shigenobu I (1787–1832) on display nearby, as homosexuality since wakashū, the younger of the lovers in a nanshoku relationship, were considered to be a third gender.

Further erotic parodies involving Fukurokuju, Hotei, and the rest of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune (shichifukujin) can be found elsewhere in this exhibition.

View info on museum database (enabled through support by the Robert F. Lange Foundation)