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Megumi Igarashi
Megumi Igarashi (right) in her pussy boat

Japanese vagina artist found guilty of obscenity

Megumi Igarashi’s ‘pussy boat’ prints have apparently broken the country’s strict censorship laws

As most of us know, making an anatomically correct boat sculpture of your vagina can be hard. There are structural challenges, sizing issues – and, if you live in Japan, extremely strict obscenity laws to contend with.

Just ask Megumi Igarashi. The Japanese artist – also known as Rokudenashiko (‘good-for-nothing girl’) – has been in out and of trouble with the country’s authorities for her so-called “pussy boats”, which apparently allow users to float through water in a 3D-printed vagina.

Igarashi, who based the controversial design on her own genitalia, ended up being arrested in July 2014 for distributing data that enabled people to print their own copies of the boats. Despite battling obscenity charges ever since, the artist was eventually found guilty this morning – with the judge, Mihoko Tanabe, reportedly convicting her for distributing “obscene” images. According to The Guardian, Tanabe claimed that Igarashi’s “flat and inorganic” data could “sexually arouse viewers.” 

The artist was eventually fined 400,000 yen (£2,575) for the offence, with all other charges against her being dropped. This included her choice to display plaster versions of the kayak in an adult shop in Tokyo – a decision that, Tanabe ruled, was not “obvious” enough to warrant a criminal charge.

Igarashi’s case has been closely followed by feminist campaigners, who believe it exposes Japan’s archaic attitude to female genitalia. Besides, this is the same country that will happily hold a celebratory ‘penis’ festival every year – so why get so prude about a bit of vagina? As Igarashi herself told the court last year: “I am innocent because neither the data for female genitals nor my artworks shaped like female genitals are obscene.”

Japan’s strict obscenity laws carry a maximum penalty of two years in prison or a fine of up to 2.5 million yen (£16,000). In this particular case, the prosecutors decided to seek only a fine.

“Because female genitalia were ‘overly hidden’ in Japanese society, I did not know what a pussy should look like,” defended Igarashi in a blog post last year. “I wanted to make a pussy more casual and pop... I was very surprised to see how people get upset to see my works or even to hear me say ‘manko’ (Japanese slang for vagina).”