Vagina artist found guilty of obscenity in Japan

Megumi Igarashi has been praised for challenging Japanese perceptions of female sexuality

Megumi Igarashi
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi with her vagina mascot
(Image credit: Yokishazu Tsuno/Getty)

A Japanese court has found an artist guilty of obscenity after she posted scans of her vagina online to allow people to create 3D-printed models of it.

Megumi Igarashi, who goes by the name of Rokudenashiko, or "good-for-nothing girl", was fined 400,000 yen (£2,575) for distributing the images after a judge ruled they "realistically reproduce the shape [of the genitalia] and stimulate the viewers' sexual desire".

She was cleared of creating a kayak sculpture modelled on her genitalia, as well as a small vagina-shaped figure decorated with fake fur and glitter.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Igarashi has vowed to appeal the charge. "I believe I'm innocent. I'll fight until the end," Igarashi told Japan Today.

She was arrested and briefly jailed in 2014 after the kayak sculpture was displayed at a sex shop in Tokyo.

Her arrest sparked a nationwide debate about feminism and artistic rights in which she was widely praised for challenging perceptions of female sexuality.

"This shows that Japan is still very backwards about women's sexual expression," Igarashi said at the time. "It is not acknowledged at all except as something for men's pleasure."

Commentators have pointed out the hypocrisy of Japanese authorities in arresting Igarashi while allowing traditional fertility festivals that parade giant models of erect penises in the streets, as well as the country's booming porn industry.

Others note the contradiction between the country's strict obscenity laws and the fact that possession of child abuse images was only made illegal in 2014 and they still feature in manga.

"How can it be OK for comics to publish underage pornography but illegal to invite people to 3D scan your vagina?" Jonathan Jones asks in The Guardian.

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us