Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Pornography in Japan
Japanese pornography has some unique features which separate it from pornography in other cultures, especially Western pornography. It is quite common and frequently translated and exported to Western cultures because of its large spectrum of themes and media. Japanese erotica has a reputation in the West as being sado-masochistic and youth-centered due to cultural differences and various taboos.
According to researchers, the concept of "pornography" emerged in the Edo period where every form of popular culture flourished. All forms of pornography flourished with the sole exception of figures and statues. This does not mean there were no works of erotica; these early works were by highly literate nobles and often considered works of art. Both Japanese mythology and Shinto have few teachings about sexuality. An act of sex is and was an act of happiness without guilt or sin.
Until the Kamakura period in 12th century, a man went to a woman's house to be accepted inside, and many poems prior to this period were poems of love. By careful phrasing and use of words, a seemingly innocent poem of beauty doubled as a passionate poem of lust. Those with little talent for poetry often asked a friend to write for them and this sometimes caused an embarrassing situation where two persons with the same friend gave the same poem to a woman. Commoners instead met together in a matsuri or a festival, it is not a coincidence that most matsuri are held at night. They had little if any need for pornographic material.
In the Kamakura period, Zen Buddhism focusing on meditations made samurai less open to an open sexuality and focusing more on formalities. Marriage customs changed to have a woman enter the family of a man she was marrying to reduce the need to write passionate verses. Few erotica or pornographic works are known from this or the next period, the Muromachi period. In the Sengoku period, even fewer works are known.
In the Edo period, pornography flourished due to the unique characteristic of the city of Edo. Well over 60% of the population of Edo were males and these males came from all over Japan to work for years before returning to their hometown to marry (or they were already married), having learned valuable skills like reading, writing, and crafts. The disproportionate population balance and excess of young males demanded means to fulfill their sexual needs. State controlled prostitutions like Yoshiwara were an answer and pornography was another.
There were many pornographic materials. Shunga or pornographic wood-block pictures were printed with all imaginable situations. These were often made into a book with sentences to describe their situations as well as to offer brief descriptions of a scene. Near the end of the Edo period when foreigners became widely known and seen, even interracial sex acts with foreign males were drawn and sold. The actual use of shunga was not quite simple. Less explicit books with kimono covering most of the body were used for sex education, while some were probably used for masturbation and others were even viewed with a lover. In many places, these shunga were packed by parents of the wife for use in her marriage. In 1788, a shunga book Haikai Yobukodori had a single picture on each page with lengthy descriptions attached. These shunga were rented from a rental book shop. In 1808, there were 656 shops in Edo, 300 shops in Osaka. This means that there were about one shop for every 1500 people in Edo. Much softer materials were also available. There were wood-block pictures of celebrity like kabuki actors and geisha both completely clothed in kimono.
After the Meiji restoration, the publication of pornographic materials declined under governmental pressure. It was still early 20th century and the government feared that such an openly sexual culture could be seen as a sign of backwardness by European countries. The shunga production stopped and they were exported as "erotic arts" at a bargain price to any buyer from abroad. Pornographic novels were still produced underground as the language barrier would prevent them from becoming widely known abroad. Pornographic arts were still produced but by a general consensus rather than an enforcement and these came to be viewed as low arts.
In the late Taisho period and early Showa period, an artistic movement called Eroguronansensu, lit. erotic grotesque and nonsense, occurred influenced by decadence works of Europe. These words were used because they had an air of a new and modern feeling. Until the 1950s, pornography were still very limited in production. Open sexual expressions were permitted in novels and manga but a strict control was applied on pictures and movies. During World War II, pornographic materials were banned altogether.
Influenced by magazines like Playboy, pornographic magazines were printed soon after WW II. These magazines quickly branched to cover all genres and featured pornographic novels as well as pictures. Playboy itself, however, did not succeed in Japan. Its articles were about the American lifestyle; women were mostly non-Asian, interviews were with someone largely unknown in Japan, and fashion and sport were about American ones. Instead, it spawned a fetish and a genre known as Youmono, lit. Western things. Playboy revamped its articles and style in the early 2000s in Japan by having Japanese writers write exclusively about Japan and dropping most of the original content.
In the early 1960s, several movie studios began producing "pink movies" and Roman porno, lit. romantic porno to be exclusively viewed in an adult-only movie theater. With censorship laws prohibiting genitals from being seen but otherwise free to express anything, these movies quickly diversified to fill all genres, including rape and bondage. From the 1960s to the late 1980s, ambiguous censorship laws resulted in hundreds of cases regarding erotica and pornography. At midnight, television stations mostly aired soft-core pornographic movies until their ratings dropped due to the pornographic movies.
The proliferation of pornographic videos in the 1980s commonly called AV, short for adult video, eventually crashed the market for pornographic movie theaters. Rental video stores offered pornography at a price far below that of movie theaters. Because most Japanese families now had at least two television sets and VCRs, more videos were sold. It is rumored, but not supported, that VHS became popular over Betamax format because large numbers of AV were released in VHS format. Few AVs were sold in laserdisc format, but CDs and later DVDs were used to distribute AV.
In 1983, the Nintendo Family Computer was released and a few pornographic games quickly followed. However, Nintendo wanted these machines to be family oriented and pornographic games were locked out of the market. Computer games with no limitation on content except for censorship laws became a popular way to distribute pornographic games. Early CDs and DVDs were viewed on personal computers. Because so few Japanese people saw any reason to play games on these platforms, as opposed to video game consoles, playing computer games was sometimes viewed as being synonymous with playing Bishojo games.
In the late 1980s, the Dojinshi market expanded. It is estimated that about half of this market consists of pornography. Copyright problems plague the market, yet the dojinshi market was a common place for one to start before making a debut in a professional magazine. Yaoi began in the dojinshi market. From the mid 1990s, the dojinshi market also began making and selling pornographic games.
In 1980s, magazines oriented towards a mature male audience began to offer more explicit content. This was not immediately a major social issue because magazines oriented towards a mature female audience already existed and their content was in some ways more explicit.
Laws and movements
Japanese pornography has diversified to fill a vast number of categories and needs, with some themes being so obscure that the appeals and differences are too subtle for anyone but the most devoted to recognize. These diversities occurred because of three major reasons: to entertain by developing new methods of expression, to fill niche markets, and to work around censorship laws. Neither religious conservatism nor feminism had been a powerful factor in pornography in Japan.
Perhaps the sexual practice most associated with Japanese pornography in the West is bukkake which is the facial taken to an extreme with dozens of men ejaculating on one woman's face. This is an example of all three reasons, an over-expression of an idea and an alternative to showing actual acts of sex that would be mosaiced under censorship laws. It is marketed with minor varieties in every situation imaginable, from young to old, costumed or nude, single male to over a hundred.
Criticisms of pornography in Japan come from basically one force, the Parent Teacher Association (PTA). The PTA believes that the ease of access to pornographic materials makes children act immorally and encourages minors to have sex. Proponents of pornography censorship laws demand the tightening of censorship laws to the most stringent laws in America and Europe so that Japan is not seen as an "abnormality" amongst "civilized nations".
The religious and social taboo against nudity has historically been weaker in Japan than in the West: "pillow books " detailing sexual acts were widely sold in the Edo era, and women and men routinely worked in the nude and bathed in public up to, and even after, the Meiji Restoration. While in Western society nudity has typically been a taboo; that idea entered Japan only after Meiji-era and how deep that idea is rooted is argued. Extreme public nudity, such as showing the genital area, would nevertheless be persecuted in Japan (except in gender-divided public baths, and even then discretion is required). The Japanese attitude toward nudity in the media is more liberal than that of the United States, although it is still conservative in contrast to western Europe. Oddly enough, Japan does not have a nudist beach.
In Japan, it is illegal for any commercial publications to depict the female clitoris or male glans. Any publications depicting the penis or vagina must be shrink-wrapped and barred from sale to minors. However, it is not uncommon for pictorial magazines to depict nude women with their genitalia airbrushed over in black, and video pornography routinely depicts explicit sex scenes with the participants' genitalia mosaicked out. Until 1991, the entire pubic region, including hair, was deemed obscene and unpublishable.
It is also illegal to bring pornographic material into Japan, and customs agents are known for checking videotapes in international mail and hand baggage. Extreme cases, like multiple offenders or attempts at commercial importation, could be punished by fines but most merely had their contraband confiscated. Applications of this law did not change in recent years, but more offenders are caught in recent years as checks became tighter to prevent drug trade and terrorism.
There is also a thriving genre of underground pornography in Japan (called urabon ) that ignores these censorship laws: it has become especially prevalent on the internet, as there are no mechanisms in place to prevent its transmission from Japanese nationals to the outside world. Japan recently has begun a crackdown on child pornography especially photographs and videos involving an act of sex between a minor and an adult, largely due to U.S. pressure in attempts to gain a control over Internet trafficking.
Religion and pornography
Religions are not a factor in regulations of pornography nor defining of immorality in Japan. It is instead defined by a consensus. This is due to the fact that the separation of religion and state was complete before the proliferation of pornography. In the Edo period, Tokugawa shogunate limited religions' activities to organizing ceremonies such as funerals and marriages. This is because during the Sengoku period, religions like Buddhism and Christianity served as a ideological backbones to rebellions. The shogunate recognized the danger of religious fanaticism and stopped a participation of religious leaders in policy making.
There is a pornographic culture just as there is a culture for foods or sports. Not all cultural aspects are equally represented, some are simply illegal or taboo in other countries. An expression of sexuality is more widely accepted in the main stream media. Thus in many cases, scenes acceptable to Japanese audiences are unacceptable in other countries. Ribaldry is quite common even in child oriented materials and expressions that in most other cultures would not be acceptable for general audiences are shown without a warning. In an early episode of Dragon Ball, to find an invisible opponent, Muten-R˘shi is shown Bulma's bared breast that causes him to bleed from nose like a fountain drenching the invisible man.
Japanese erotica has many of the same themes as its western counterpart such as heterosexual and homosexual intercourse, group sex, and sexual bondage. Similarly to western erotica the Japanese version may also portray various sexual fetishes such as foot fetishism, or a focus on a certain type of clothing such as uniforms (buru sera) or costumes as anime, manga or video game characters. (See cosplay for more details, note that the term cosplay itself does not relate to pornography)
Many genres of Japanese erotica evolved because of censorship laws. Tentacle rape, an animated portrayal of rape fantasies involving a human female and a science fiction-like creature originated in the Edo era. The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, a wood print of a woman in a sexual act with a giant octopus is one example of tentacle rape. It emerged as an alternative to depicting the male penis in the 1980s, and it became famous for its depiction in anime, Legend of the Overfiend.
In general, the Japanese tend to view Western pornographic materials as being crudely made. In short, they look artificial and comical in their acts to Japanese eyes. Note that North Korean propaganda TV shows that show women and children in fixed smiles are often looked at with the same bemusement, scary and comical at the same time.
Doujin and parodies
Main Article: Doujinshi
Doujinshi, "fan works", are widely known as pornographic imitations of popular anime, games and manga. They are technically a violation of copyright law and can be prosecuted if the owner of copyrighted material chose to have them prosecuted. But in many cases, owners officially ignore their existence. This attitude is at odds with the concept of copyright. However, this practice is common as it is a good way to measure how large the core of consumers are, the number of dojinshi published is representative of the number of consumers who would spend liberally on the title, increase and decrease shows rise of interest and its decline.
It is increasingly common for original doujinshi to portray underage characters; in Japan, this is known as lolicon, but in the United States it would simply be referred to as child pornography.
Main Article : H anime
Animated erotica (known in the West as hentai, but in Japan as 'adult anime') is a popular but a minor genre in Japan and generally maintains the same style of animation seen in other popular forms of Japanese animation (anime). Many of these anime are originally a game, a manga, or a novel.
Adult oriented games are a popular genre for computer games in Japan, comprising some 25% of all software titles published annually. The genre is somewhat unknown outside Japan because of several problems, cultural and translational, but their artworks are well known on internet websites often illegally copied and shown as "adult anime pictures". Known "bishojo games" or "pretty girl games" (alternately spelled "bishoujo") in Japanese, the games are known under several names used by English fans, including PC dating-sim game, hentai game/H game, and so on. Companies such as Peach Princess, JAST USA and G-Collections are porting dating-sim games to English for the fledgeling market outside of Japan.
Pornographic material has existed from the earliest day of computer networking and internet has helped to connect those interested in specific genres. In these early days, the presence of pornographic materials often resulted in heated arguments between those who did not want any such material that can be anonymously accessed and those who believed that individuals can determine for themselves. The matter was eventually resolved by having either and both warnings and a password before pornographic materials.
Fanfictions are very commonly found in websites and are not limited to fictious characters and often use real live person as well, though these works would make little sense to those who do not see Japanese TV programs. Dojinshi writers typically use internet to market their products by offering previews of new works, a secret address where buyers can find additional works, and a fix of their games. They also recruit new writers and artists online. Several exclusively adult oriented search engines exist to let someone find a site they are looking for, without having to search through commercial websites that list all keywords. Many works of dojinshi are futured in websites that collect and let ones see for free.
Many websites feature seasonal greeting pictures, often pornographic, from linked sites and friends who frequent their sites. A typical Christmas greeting picture of such sites features a santa-girl who would be in a various stage of undressing. The twelve zodiac animals of Chinese astrology offer challenging and entertaining examples of Catgirl.
Magazines are, along with videos, popular media for pornographic materials. Unless a magazine contains pornographic manga or pictures, there is a no age requirement for its purchase. Many non-pornographic magazines have some glamour photography and as long as women are in something more than a swimsuit, it is considered a non-pornographic photograph. Several non-pornographic magazines have some nude photographs of women as a part of their articles but as long as they have an artistic quality and do not show men, it is not considered pornographic. Furthermore, a female and male doll may be partially clothed or even nude as long as it is a work of art and is not in an act of sex.
Confessional writings by both genders are a popular topic in men's and pornographic magazines. Quite often, these writings are fictional stories written by professional authors. Other popular topics in men's and pornographic magazines are erotic manga and novels, reviews of pornographic videos, and reports of sex services.
Women's magazines also have most of written piece of men's and pornographic magazines. Except for few glamour photographies of men (who are usually clothed), they lacks graphic pornographic contents. Few, if any, of magazines targeted for women are considered pornographic or have an age requirement as they lack a graphic content.
The dividing line for manga on what is pornography and what is not, can be summed up by a simple rule: that which requires age verification to purchase is pornography, and that which does not require an age verification are not pornography. Pornographic manga are often sealed, so that one cannot take a peek and most of such manga are sold in an adult oriented store. This is how the subject is treated in Japan. The general attitude is closer to that of literature, if a sex scene has relevence in the progression of the storyline and not simply an attempt to offer sex for sex's sake, it is not considered pornography. However, this would be unacceptable in most cultures and it breaks many of censorship codes and laws.
A manga that does not target mature audiences may also have a page or two of what looks similar to glamour photography. These nude or semi-nude scenes with objects or hands covering breast and genital area are called a "service scene". These scenes are often a part of comical sequence and a male character is usually slapped to end the sequence.
Pornographic video (called "adult video" or "AV" in Japan) covers wide themes and the only limit is censorship laws. It is predominantly male oriented. This has led to several widely believed myths that many females who appear in AV are forced by yakuza for a outstanding debt or that Japanese women appear in these videos because they are masochistic.
Many videos have a title that may or may not suggest that they might be using minors or the actual recording of a crime, but no titles that are circulated with the approval of Eirin, a self-censor organization of productions, breaks any laws. A common ploy is to have a part of a title replaced with a character or to use a phonetically same, but nonexistent word. For example, a video about "19 years old girls Sex Party" may be sold with a title like "1X years old Girls Sex Party!". The word Joshikosei (女子高生), lit. high school girl, cannot be used as it would indicate a girl 17 years or younger who cannot act in an pornographic video. A nonexistent word Joshikosei (女子校生) that can mean a female student is used in many titles to promote, but not break censorship laws.
Impacts on other cultures
Even today, copies of Japanese pornography that infringe on copyrights are widely sold in Asia. The reasons are economic as well as technical. Even a poor Japanese film studio uses equipment that is comparable to a rich studio in most of Asia and their products offer high quality. They are well filmed and scripted because most Japanese studios are started with the objective of eventually filming a movie or offering TV programs, rather than for short term profit. In many cases, a Japanese person watching TV programs in other Asian countries gets a nagging feeling that he has seen them somewhere before.
This copyright infringement has created a problem in Asia and also in U.S. and Europe which buys legal copies. To avoid spending money on hiring translators for conversations that often precedes an act of sex, it has become normal to cut and piece together a video filled with various scenes of sex and nothing else. Further, to avoid the need for explaining a scene, especially on infringing copies in countries where violence in pornography is heavily censored, videos with simulated rape scenes became a niche of Japanese pornography. What resulted was that in these countries, Japanese pornography came to be synonymous with violence in sex, with those watching believing that such fantasies are disproportionately represented in Japan.
Types of publications
- Core Magazine
- C's Publishing
- Eichi Publishing
- france shoin
- Kasakura Publishing
- myway Publishing
- Oakla Publishing
- Odysseus Publishing
- Sakuramomo Syobo
- Shinkosha Publishing
- Studio Pot
- Taiyo Publishing
- Terra Publications
- Tokyo Sanseisha
- Tsukasa Shobou
- Wailea Publishing
See also List of Japanese erotic actresses
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details