Japanese Tickling Art


Depictions of adults engaged in some kind of tickling activity can be found in the art of several countries. Whether it be punishment, torture, or purely sexual, it exists at the same frontier boundaries of art as sex, just beyond the horror and grotesque zones.

Nowhere is adult tickling art more closely associated with sex than in Japan. Indeed, there seems to be a total lack of tickling-only material of the sort so common in the U.S. This should not surprise us given the Japanese passion for eroticism. It would not be unfair to say that the Japanese invented eroticism, in that for hundreds of years they have put so much attention on achieving peak sexual satisfaction while sidestepping most of the guilt Westerners associate with such attitudes. For the Japanese, tickling play is just another way to achieve arousal, one of many items on the menu of sex practices we still feel are so unusual that they deserve special labels.

Very recently (the end of 1996) I have seen advertisements for tickling videos that seem to sidestep any direct sexual association, and wonder if this is not a direct influence of American tastes. On the other hand, the Japanese produce many forms of entertainment that hint at sex without portraying it, from young girls in schoolgirl uniforms lifting their skirts to beautiful women bound with meticulously arranged ropes. I am at a loss as to whether this represents the intrusion of Western style guilt about sex into modern Japanese culture, or some other attribute at work. It may be a matter of privacy, such that tying up a woman and fucking her is fine as long as it involves two consenting adults, but publishing photographs of the event is too much of an invasion of privacy for any but the most exhibitionistic performers to agree to.

I see three major distinguishing features in Japanese tickling art. The first is the use of tools, the second is the facial expression of the person being tickled, and the third is the almost total concentration on erogenous zones.

All manner of feathers and brushes are incorporated into Western tickling scenes, but what strikes me is that the Japanese never depict fingertip tickling. (I think I have one drawing of a woman getting her cunt tickled by a man's fingers, but the text is vague and could simply mean he was gently massaging her.) More than just the use of tools, there are two that turn up again and again as if their presence is intended to communicate to the viewer than tickling torture is taking place or at least on the menu. These two tools are the Japanese writing brush, called fude (fu as in food, de as in deck), and a fascinating gadget who's origin is unknown to me which consists of a bunch of feathers carefully mounted in a handle.

I have scanned these images from magazines published in Japan and present them here without permission. The descriptions are entirely my own, and I hope I have not misrepresented any of the original work. I would like to give credit to every artist and source, but frankly my Japanese is not up to the task of translating all the names. I actually tried to find someone to help with that, hopefully a gorgeous female college student from Japan who wants to learn as much as possible about extreme sex. Alas, no suitable applicant responded to my ad!

The illustrations are divided into two sets, drawings and photographs. Each illustration, or the first of a series, includes some descriptive text. For those of you who saw my original posting of this material in alt.sex.fetish.tickling, please note that I have rearranged things a bit and use a slightly different numbering system.

Last, but not least, may I remind you once again that all of these illustrations are presented here as depictions of fantasies rather than real life behavior. One should not surmise that because tickling bound, helpless women is depicted here it is acceptable behavior, any more than a movie depicting a renegade cop on a shooting spree portrays desirable behavior on the part of our law enforcement community. If you do wish to act out such fantasies, adhere to the rule of safe, sane, and consentual, not only at the outset but throughout the play. Agree on limits, establish a safe word, and respect both without compromise.

Sandy Beach
December, 1996

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