Anyone who’s seen an adult video produced in Japan (we’re not judging) knows that genitalia – both male and female – are blurred out using mosaics. Why? Because a 1907 law (PDF file) makes it illegal to sell, distribute, or display “obscene objects.” Japanese police often bust uncensored porn rings hocking illegal DVDs and truly hentai individuals can even purchase machines that claim to unscramble the naughty parts.
As absurd as it may seem to an outsider, Japan takes censoring the nether regions very seriously. Even manga, anime, and erotic magazines get the mosaic treatment. Works of art can also fall into a gray area, as evidenced by the arrest last year of Singaporean photographer Leslie Kee for selling a photo book containing male nudes at an art gallery in Tokyo (Kee is no amateur – one of his portraits was used as a Lady Gaga album cover).
Another arrest yesterday seems to point toward a new frontier for Japan’s easily offended censors: 3D printing. Tokyo-based artist Megumi Igarashi, 42, stands accused of distributing data that could be used to 3D print a model of her own genitals. According to the Spoon&Tamago site, an online petition has already been initiated to protest the charges.
Igarashi allegedly sent the data to several people who had contributed to her fundraising campaign to construct a “vagina boat.” She told officers that she did not send pictures of her actual private parts, adding “I do not acknowledge that [the work] is an obscenity.”
Igarashi, who uses the name Rokudenashi-ko (which translates as “good-for-nothing girl”), appears to be an outspoken critic of her country’s censorship of female genitalia in particular. Her Twitter contains quite a few images that may land on the wrong side of the law, including a Gundam robot with a vagina and an iPhone case that resembles a, well, you already know.