It might not be entirely accurate to describe Toshio Saeki’s work as proper “porn,” but his nightmarish prints (created using a modernized version of a traditional Japanese woodcut technique) are certainly erotica. Saeki actually quit his job at a Tokyo ad agency at the age of 24 and started working at men’s magazines. His art developed a following during the sexual revolution of the 1960s, and by the time his horror erotica was first published in 1970, older genres of Japanese pulp—like Ero Guro Nansensu (“erotic, grotesque, nonsense”)—were getting popular again. Saeki explained his philosophy in a 2013 interview with Dazed:
Let me put it this way: leave other people to draw seemingly beautiful flowers that bloom within a nice, pleasant-looking scenery. I try instead to capture the vivid flowers that sometimes hide and sometimes grow within a shameless, immoral and horrifying dream.
Often referred to as “the godfather of Japanese erotica.” Saeki is a septuagenarian today, still living and working in rural Japan, pleased to see his art embraced by new generations of fans.