Japan's ‘Vagina Artist’ Denies Obscenity Charges

Megumi Igarashi, July 24, 2014, YouTube screen capture.

Megumi Igarashi, July 24, 2014, YouTube screen capture.

Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi, nicknamed “The Vagina Artist” by the Western media, says there's nothing obscene about artwork based on her genitalia.

(Megumi Igarashi)'s first court appearance, declares herself not guilty of obscenity charges. (´-`).。oO (I'm also so glad the courtroom artist was able to portray her so well.  ー(^o^)

Tokyo Metropolitan Police arrested Igarashi in July 2014 for allegedly emailing crowd-funders of her art project links to a webpage, where they could download 3D data that could be used to create vulva-shaped kayaks based on the shape of her genitals.

Igarashi was again arrested several months later for displaying another artwork based on the shape of her genitalia in a Tokyo sex shop—a clear case of police harassment, according to her lawyer.

For several months prior to her arrest in July 2014, Igarashi, who also goes by the pseudonym ‘Rokudenashiko” ( ろくでなし子 or “good-for-nothing girl”), had gained notoriety for creating and displaying a variety of works of art based on the shape of her genitals.

Megumi Igarashi, aka Rokudenaishiko, is the Tokyo artist accused of obscenity. Let's take a look at a few samples of her artwork.

In Japan, media portraying either the male or female genitalia are illegal under Article 175 of the penal code. The prohibition dates back to the Meiji Period, when Japan adopted Western practices and institutions in the latter half of the 19th Century.

Interestingly, Article 175 offers no clear guidance to police or courts about what constitutes obscenity in these cases:

…There is not a clause in this article, which defines the term “obscenity” and “neither government administrators nor the courts were legally compelled to specify what constituted “obscene material. It is little wonder that multiple interpretations have been given to this article with regards to its application. If we consider visual material such as manga or cinema, the law has interpreted the term obscenity in this article as the exposure of pubic hair, the adult genitals and the sexual act. Thus, if this should happen the exposed parts in any kind of visual material should be hidden with what in Japan is called bokashi (blurring or fogging) or with a digital mosaic. This extremely vague definition of obscenity has created numerous inconsistencies in court decisions, which are central to the current debate on freedom of speech in Japan.

Japanese culture also has a strong taboo about discussing or even acknowledging vaginas (although Holland-based Metroplis TV, the publisher of the informative clip below, has no problem with using the term “Pussy Boat” to describe Igarashi's vulva-shaped kayak):

If convicted, Igarashi faces up to two years in jail and fines of up to 2.5 million yen (US $20,900).


Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency

No thanks, show me the site