History of Tentacle Porn - Missionaries, Shunga Scrolls, and Censorship

 Three cartoon octopus in different colors and accessories

 

If you know anything about Japan, you know it has the innate gift of churning out really weird stuff– with anime being near or at the top of the list.

 

But would you believe that one of the freakiest genres – TENTACLE PORN – doesn’t only come from Japanese influences, but American as well?

 

Let's look at how this porn crawled from the sea and ended up all over the internet...

 

 

SHUNGA – SPRINGTIME, SEX, AND SCROLLS


 

From the 17th through the 19th century, erotic art (Shunga 春画) was vastly popular among all social and economic classes. They were mostly woodblock printed scrolls in the Ukiyo-e style (depicting beautiful women, classic tales, courtesans, or hedonistic lifestyles) with men and women locked in exaggerated, nearly impossible, positions and enlarged genitals.

 

FUN FACT: Shunga literally translates into “Picture of Spring” which can be a genteelism for sex.

 

These scrolls ranged from cheap examples you could borrow from lending houses to expensive ones commission by the wealthy – with the earnings from high-end works keeping the artist comfortable for 6 months or longer.

 

They were considered good luck by many, including some samurai, and were often given as gifts, carried with someone on travels, or kept in a house to prevent fires.  It’s also theorized they were “necessary” for anyone who was separated from their partner for long periods of time (military, merchants, and housewives).

 

A famous example (and probably the first recorded instance of tentacle porn) is "The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife" (蛸と海女, Tako to ama) - 1814 by Hokusai.

 

Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, Tako to ama illustration

 

Tako to ama aka “The Octopus and Shell Diver” is the story of a pearl diver who swims to the underwater palace of the Dragon King to steal back a pearl. The angry king sends his aquatic army to get it back … the resulting chase, for some reason, leads to mutual sex between her and the “Daddy” and “son” octopuses.

 

The whole thing culminates with the brilliant idea to cut her chest open, so she can put the pearl in the wound and swim faster. No surprise she died at the end.

 

 

MILITARY AND MISSIONARIES


 

Near the end of the Edo Period (1800s) the military dictatorship that ruled the country tried to ban all forms of “lewdness” – which seems odd, especially since it was common for men, women, and children to see each other naked in communal bathhouses, topless women working the fields, or farmers in loincloths.

 

SIDE NOTE: It’s worth mentioning that nudity was SO commonplace that the concept of being wrapped in fine silks and garments while you had sex was considered far more erotic – hence most people on Shunga scrolls being clothed.

 

 

What brought on this strong wave of censorship?

 

Japanese sex scroll illustrationThe main idea is from European missionaries or American influences. Those who came in were shocked and appalled to see this public nudity and blatant display of pornography - with businessmen turning red in the ears when Japanese hosts brought out their sex scrolls to show off during dinner.

 

The Japanese government, seeing how advanced the West was, was eager to impress, fit in, and therefore benefit from trading and the current technological advances. Hence, the tight-fisted sweep to ban all porn.

 

Passing years and continued censorship, especially under the Meiji Restoration, is what now results in all Japanese porn being pixelated around the genitals, male anime characters having no nipples, and body hair being a no-no.

 

FUN FACT: While westerners saw nudity as lewd, the Japanese viewed public displays of affection to be low class and having no respect. No one was winning.

 

 

A TENTACLE IS NOT A PENIS


 

It wasn’t until 1989 did the genre (as we know it today) really take off.  Toshio Maeda, a graphic novelist and artist, found a loophole in the government’s censorship policies – which stated that you couldn’t see a penis in print or other forms of media.

 

… But there was no rule on sea creatures or non-human appendages.

 

Comic book, Demon Beast InvasionMaeda was able to show full penetration by using tentacles and robot arms in his series, Demon Beast Invasion – and probably pissed off the censorship board who could do nothing about it. For Japan, this was a huge deal.

 

It was barely a year later, and tentacle porn had exploded onto the scene, with many MANY other artists taking the genre to new, more grotesque and graphic levels. It now holds a permanent place on the "Yep, it's real" list of things you have to convince your friends of - along with themed love hotels, over-the-top Japanese fetish clubs, and bathtub slime.

 

Currently, and ironically, the largest consumers of tentacle porn are Europe and America – the very ones that were heavy influences in trying to ban it in the first place.

 

Other well-known works include La Blue Girl, Galaxy of Terror, Edo Porn, and The Evil Dead.

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

While a fair amount of the genre is non-consensual interactions, I’m curious if anyone has come across clips that feature consensually pleasurable scenes. If so, give a shout-out in the comments.

 

Also, if you love funky, Japan-related articles and experiences, you might enjoy these...

 

 

Have a shunga-filled day!

Robyn

 

*article cover credit - Noah Sterling

Mots clésHistory of Tentacle Porn

Comments (1)

  1. Mega says:

    Excellent article! I -have- seen some consensual tentacle porn, but it usually starts off as non, but eventually the girl gives in to the extreme pleasure. So kinda half n half.

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