Ito (伊藤) family name, Seiu (晴雨) first name, (male, 1882-1961)
Seiu Ito was an important and highly influential figure in the SM world in Japan during the Showa era (1925-1989). Born in 1882, he was strongly attracted from an early age to scenes of torture in stories and theater plays and he produced a large body of art (paintings and drawings) as well as photographs depicting scenes of torture and kinbaku, often using his wife or his mistress as his model.
He started as an illustrator working for newspapers at the end of the Meiji era but later became a theater critic. He then became the head of the Performing Arts section as well as the main illustrator for the Yomiuri newspaper. At the beginning of the Taisho period (1912), he met Sasaki Kaneko (Oha) and Sahara Kise, two women who had an appreciation of kinbaku, and he deepened his study of torture art and photography. In the closing years of the Taisho era (around 1926), he rode the wave of the eroguro movement and attracted attention as a “painter of perversion”. In 1928, he published the first photo book of kinbaku (Seme no Kenkyu – Research on Torture), which was soon after banned by the authorities.
Before World War II, through editor Suikodo Shoten, he published a large number of collections of graphic works. But this period, with Ito at the height of his career, was interrupted by the war. With the cessation of hostilities, he became active as a writer in the castori magazines such as Ningen Tankyu, Kitan Club and Fuzoku Zoshi. In addition, he organized frequent photo sessions and the resulting photos can be seen as “photos in the Seiyu way” in magazines such as Fuzoku Zoshi, Fuzoku Kitan and Uramado. During the Taisho period (1912-1926) he established theater groups whose plays centered on torture scenes and, in 1953, he started the Seme no Gekidan (Torture Theater Group) which performed at Ichikawa Suzumoto theater in Tokyo and others.
He was also an historian and his lifelong research culminated in the book Iroha Hiki -- Edo to Tokyo Fuzoku Noshi which details the tools and crafts of old Tokyo.
伊藤晴雨(Japanese), Hajime Ito (伊藤一, real name)
Born March 3rd 1882, in Tokyo, Asakusa district, Kinryusan Kudarikawara 5 as the eldest son of Ito Kintaro a metal engraver.
1890: is accepted as an apprentice by Nozawa Teiu, a member of the Edo based Korinha school of drawing. When roughly 9 years old discovers his obsession with the perfume of women’ hair and punishment scenes in theater plays.
1891 Receives from his mother a copy of the story of Chujou Hime (Princess Chujou). The scene of torture in the snow leaves a strong impression
1892 Goes with his parents to the theater Honsho Kotobukiza and watches a performance of Yoshida Otono’s “Maneku Furusode” (an inviting kimono sleeve); the scene of torture leaves a profound mark on his mind.
1894 Starts as apprentice with the elephant tusk ivory carver Naito Yasukazu in the district of Honzo Ku Aioi Machi, Tokyo.
1895 Starts to collect pictures related to torture.
1896 Starts to draw advertisement for theater plays.
1896 June Goes to the Aoki theater in the district of Hoingo, Tokyo to watch “Nisshin Senso Youchi no Kyutan” (raid nocturne during the Nishiin war) a play in the Zoushishibai ( Outlaw Theater) where a scene of torture of a nurse leaves a deep impression.
1898 While still an apprentice with the ivory carver, uses its moments of leisure to draw ropes of illustrations of women published in the Tokyo Asahi newspaper.
1899 In the Tokiwaza Theater in Asakusa, is strongly impressed by the torture chamber in the play Akumabarai (sweep away the demons) of Misuno Koubi.
1905 with the intention of becoming a painter, terminates his apprenticeship with the ivory carver and moves to Kyoto. Tries different occupation in succession but finally returns to Tokyo.
1907 Joins the Maiseki Shinbun published in the Nihonbashi, Tokyo district as drawing journalist. He is put in charge of illustrating “Yomashima” the Ghost Island by writer Arigawa Akikusa
1909 Joins the Yamato Shinbun Sha located in Kyobashi, Tokyo in charge of illustrations, while still remaining in charge of the theater critic at the Maiseki Shinbun, he then joined the Yomiuri Shinbum where he was promoted to head of illustrations.
1909 Through an arranged introduction he married Takeo, the younger sister of the wife of Tamaki Terunobu (1879-1953) a scenery painter of the Shinpa (new school) movement. Around that time, having stabilized his source of income and although he received numerous commissions for illustration, most of his revenue was spent in entertainment.
1916 Starts a relationship with his model Sasaki Kaneyo (“Oha”) and starts drawing his first torture illustrations.
1918 Sasaki Kaneyo starts living with Takehisa Yumeji (1884-1934) painter and poet.
1919 Starts the “Kaidan Kai” Ghost Stories Society in the park Hyakkaen in Mukojima, Tokyo with Hirayama Rokko (1881-1953) writer, Miyake Kogen (1886-1951) writer, (Izumi Kyoka (1873-1939) writer, Kubota Mantaro (1889-1963) writer, Kinjo Saitenzan (the 3rd)(1863-1935) kaidanka, Ii Yoho (1871-1932) Hanayagi Shotaro (1894-1965) actor and gives a single representation
1919 Divorce from Takeo and marries as his second wife Sahara Kisei
1919 With his second wife takes in his garden photos of snow torture. The photographer is YuuKa.
1920 In autumn makes his fist attempt at suspension with his wife Kisei. Also suspends his wife’s younger daughter in his workshop and takes some photos.
1921 (June) With his pregnant wife Kisei makes the “Rinketsu Bijin Sakasa Tsuri no Shashin” i.e the “Photo in inverted suspension of a beautiful woman in her last month of pregnancy”
1921 Suzuki Senzaburo (1893-1924) theater writer publishes “Hi Aburi” “Burnt by Fire” a play based on the life of Ito Seiu.
1923 Borrowing a farmers house in Shimotakaido from his deshi Sakamoto Gajou takes with photographer Suzuki Kaminarisui photos of snow torture. The house was noted for his plum tree in the garden, a feature Seiu appreciated.
1923 Big Kanto Earthquake. The Itou residence avoids fire damage.At this time he had lent the “Rinketsu Bijin Sakasa Tsuri no Shashin” to his friend Tomitsuka Kenzo. It will eventually be published in the December 1936 issue of Hentai Shiryou. The same year publishes “Iroha Hiki – Edo to Tokyo Fuzoku Noshi” “Private History of Edo and Tokyo Customs, taken from the Iroha “
1924 Publishes in the Sunday mainichi photos of torture of Kisei. Acquires a reputation for perversion.
1925 (summer) starts a theater group concentrating on torture scenes.
1926 (December) Publication of Rinketsu Bijin Sakasa Tsuri no Shashin in the magazine Hentai Shiriou (Pervert Documents) without his authorization. Accompanied by “Rinketsu no josei no tsukasazuri” inverse suspension of a woman in her last month of pregnancy “ by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) Ukiyoe artitst.
1927 publication of the first volume of “Iroha Hiki, Edo to Tokyo Fuzoku Noshi” by the publisher Hirobunkan.
1928 publishes the first ever photo book of Kinbaku “Seme no Kenkyuu” Research on torture” immediately forbidden.
1930 works as contributors and editors for the Kodanzasshi.
1931 His third wife is fighting a psychological illnees and he is forced to go inot debt
1932 Publishes “Bijin Ranpu” (the ecstatic dance of the beautiful women)
1932 Publishes the 6th volume of his “ Iroha Hiki – Edo to Tokyo Fuzoku Noshi “
1933 Starts his second theater group
1945 Loses his entire house during the Great Tokyo Air Raid
1947 In the fourth issue of the magazine Rioki publishes “Shitagerataru Nijon Fujin” “The Japanese married woman who wanted to be oppressed”
1950 In Asakusa (Tokyo) Hyakumandoru Gekijo (million dollars theater) gives representations of torture theater
1951(April) Until at least January 1954 exchange letters with Suma Toshiyuki (aka Kita Reiko)
1951 Publishes a series of essays in the magazine Ningen Tankyuu
1951 To celebrate the launch of the magazine Amatoria takes part in a group travel (80 person) to the onsen resort of Rendaiji Onsen in Izu. Among the participants Nakada Masahisa (1922-) editor of noir literature, Miyake Ichirou expert on Japanese politics, Kawakami Santaro (1891-1968) writer of comic haikus, Okada Hiroshi, Ikeda Bunchian (1902-1972) one of the first specialist of popular culture in Japan, Hayashiya Shouraku (the 6th) (1896-1966) rakugoka, Kitasato Toshio (1913-1980), Nanbu Kyoichiro (1904-1975) Movie critic, Takeno Tosuke (1889-1966) writer、Ono Joutoku.
1951 “Mezoku Uramono Jo” (Book on secret things in women jail) edited by Ito Seiu and intended as a supplement to be published inside Amatoria becomes a problem and is finally detached from the magazine.
1953 Edits a photo supplement to the January issue of the magazine Yomikiri Romance titled Etsugyaku Koukotsu To (graphic depiction of ecstasy in pleasure and pain) with mainly kinbaku photos. It is the second such supplement by the magazine, the first one being published in August 1952, titled "Nudo Fuzoku Arubamu " (various nude album) and edited by Ueda Seijiro who is generally considered as having been strongly influenced by Seiu. These 2 supplements represent the first 2 publications entirely devoted to kinbaku in the period following the second world war. The photos included in "Nudo Fuzoku Arubamu"are seen as pre-dating the first SM works published in Kitan Club.
1953 In the January issue of Kitan Club publishes a short piece describing his thoughts about Kita Reiko
1953 Starts his fourth “Seme No Gekidan” Torture Theater Group with its activity centered around the Nakamura Za (theatre Nakamura).
1953 (June 4th) the group gives its first representation in the theater Ishikawa Suzumoto
1953 (July) second group of representations at the theater Nakamura Za
1954 Meets for the first time in person with Suma Toshiyuki
1954 (28 January) The NHK makes an interview about “Seme no Kenkyuu" (research on torture) which is broadcasted on radio on the 29 January on the NHK first channel.
1955 Photographer Kawaguchi Hiroshi pays a visit to Itou Seiu which is the start of amicable relationship.
1956 Enters in relation with Tsujimura Takashi
1960 Receives as illustrator a price from the Federation of Fine Art Publishers.
1961 Passes away. At his funeral Takahashi Tetsuo, Suma Toshiyuki, Ueda Seijiro, Tanaka Masahisa are present
1966 Dan Oniroku novel “Ryoki no Hate” (At the extreme of hunting for the bizarre) takes Itou Seiu as model.
1968 In the December issue of Kitan Club, Dan Oniroku publishes “Shihon Itou Seiu Monogatri” (Personal writing on the story of Itou Seiu).
1969: Some discussions are held with the Toei film Company by Dan Oniroku to make a movie on the life of Ito Seiu. An agreement is not reached.
1977 Movie company Nikkatsu produces the movie “Hakkinhon Bijinranpu Yori Semeru” (from the forbidden book “ecstatic dance of the beautiful women” Torture!)
1978 In the theater Jiyu Gekijo (Free theater), Tamai Keiyu puts out the play “Kiden Itou Seiu” (Bizarre stories Itou Seiu)
1996 Dan Oniroku publishes a chronic of Itou Seiu “Sotomichi no Mure” (the heretical crowd)
2002 "Sotomichi no Mure"is adapted to the movies under the title “Oyou”
- Irohahiki Edo to Tokyo Fuzoku Noshi 6vols 1922-1932
- Seme No Kenkyu (Research on Torture) 1928
- Seme no Hanashi (Histories of Torture) 1929-9
- Rongo Tsukai (Explanation of Text)) 1930
- Onna Sanjuroku Kioku (36 remembrances of women)1930
- Bijin Ranmai (Ecstatitc Dance of Beautiful Women)1932
- Nihon Hentai Keibatsu Gabu (Perverse images of punishment in Japan) 1930
- Hitoniku Shijo (Human flesh market) 1947
- Nihon Taibatsu Fuzoku Toshi (上、下) (Graphic History of Punishment in Japan (in 2 volumes) in collaboration with Fujisawa Ehiko) 1948
- Seme no Kenkyu 1950 ( a reprint of the 1928 book)
- Seizetsu Jotai Komon Shikei Higashu” (Image Collection of Extreme Torture and Private Punishment of Women Bodies)
- Seme No Korekushon
- Bijin Juniji Sene Emaki (Scroll of Twelve Beauties in Torture)
There is a full bibliography in Japanese in the related article on Ito Seiu in SMpedia. We have listed here books on Ito Seiu, which are likely to be of value for the reader who does not read Japanese text.
伊藤晴雨集 (Ito Seiu Collected Images) March 1997 ISBN: 978-4107200433
伊藤晴雨・晴雨秘帖 The Secret Noteboks of Seiu ed: 二見書房 May 2002 ISBN: 978-4576020891
江戸と東京風俗野史 (Private History of Manners in Edo and Tokyo) A re-edition of Seiu’s work on Tokyo craftsmen and daily life, not SM related ed: 有光書房 1997 ASIN: B000JA9AFW
日本刑罰風俗図史 (上、中、下) Graphic History of Customs relative to Punishment in Japan in 3 volumes ed: 粋古堂1948 ASIN: B000JB9BSC The same book in modern re-edition in one volume ed: 国書刊行会 April 2010 ISBN: 978-4336052179
安田コレクション5 地獄の女 論語通解 The Yasuda Collection Vol 5 A reproduction of “Woman From Hell” and “Rongo tsukai” The 5th tome of a series of 9 books dedicated to the collection of erotic books amassed by Yoshida Ashiaki (1918-2008) one of the foremost expert on Japanese erotica in the 20th century (only the 5th volume contains works by Itou Seiu). Private printing, no ISBN.
Sawada Joujirou (1892-1929) Actor and theater administrator, founder of the Shinkokugeki a theater group
Zoganoya Goro (1877-1948) Actor and dramaturge.
Ichimura Uzaemon (the 15th) 1874-1945 One of the representative Kabuki actor of the Taisho and early Showa period.
Onoe Keigo (1870-1934) (the 6th) Famous Kabuki Onnagata actor.
Natsumi Ryutarou (1905-1989) Actor, belonged to the Shinkokugeki movement.
Kitamura Rokurou (1871-1961) Kabuki onnagata actor and member of the Shinpageki, a theater genre established in 1888.
Mizutani Yaeko (1905-1979) Actress, representative of the Shinpageki, which she headed after the death in 1965 of Hanayagi Shoutarou.
Hasegawa Shin (1884-1963) Novelist and theater writer.
Edogawa Ranpo (1894-1965) Novelist, first and foremost Japanese crime novel writer.
Iwata Sentaro (1901-1974) Painter, illustrator, Adviser for period movies.
Shikiba Ryusaburo (1898-1965) Psychiatrist, art critic and close friend of Mishima Yukio.
Miyao Shigeo (1902-1982) Illustrator and Specialist of Edo culture.
Suma Toshiyoki (aka Kita Reiko) (1920-1992) SM Illustrator.
Konkontei Imasuke the 5th (1998-1976) Rakugoka.