Shunga were produced between the sixteenth century and the nineteenth century by ukiyo-e artists, since they sold more easily and at a higher price than their ordinary work.
Shunga were produced between the sixteenth century and the nineteenth century by ukiyo-e artists, since they sold more easily and at a higher price than their ordinary work.Shunga prints were produced and sold either as single sheets or—more frequently—in book form, called enpon.
Through the medium of narrative handscrolls, sexual scandals from the imperial court or the monasteries were depicted, and the characters tended to be limited to courtiers and monks. While other genres covered by the edict, such as works criticising daimyōs or samurai, were driven underground by this edict, shunga continued to be produced with little difficulty.
The Kyōhō Reforms, a 1722 edict, was much more strict, banning the production of all new books unless the city commissioner gave permission. However, since for several decades following this edict, publishing guilds saw fit to send their members repeated reminders not to sell erotica, it seems probable that production and sales continued to flourish.
Superstitions and customs surrounding shunga suggest as much; in the same way that it was considered a lucky charm against death for a samurai to carry shunga, it was considered a protection against fire in merchant warehouses and the home.
From this we can deduce that samurai, chonin, and housewives all owned shunga.
Like shunga, hentai is sexually explicit in its imagery.
Shunga was probably enjoyed by both men and women of all classes.
This format was also popular, though more expensive as the scrolls had to be individually painted.
The quality of shunga art varies, and few ukiyo-e painters remained aloof from the genre.
Ukiyo-e artists owed a stable livelihood to such customs, and producing a piece of shunga for a high-ranking client could bring them sufficient funds to live on for about six months.
Among other Japanese artists, the world-renowned Japanese artist Hajime Sorayama uses his special hand brush painting technique and hanko stamp signature method in the late 20th and early 21st centuries to create modern day shunga art in the same tradition of the past artists like Hokusai.