The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife

“I’ve seen enough hentai to know where… oh, it’s already there…”

One thing Japan is very well-known for is its interest in sexuality – especially the very eclectic stuff. All it takes is one mention of tentacles, and some smart-arse has definitely “seen enough hentai to know where this is going”.

Surprisingly that particular shit is not a recent phenomenon – an 1814 woodblock print by Hokusai (yes, the same Hokusai behind The Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji) depicts a young shell diver getting rather frisky with a pair of octopus. The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife was published in Kinoe no Komatsu (a sort of collection of artistic works) of the late Edo period, and was a work of a type of erotic Ukiyo-e art called shunga. Whilst shunga have gone out of fashion somewhat, erotic depictions of tentacled beings remain scarily popular – the going theory for the reason behind this is the law that genitalia must be censored in all Japanese pornographic material, and the fact that tentacles aren’t genitalia.

But, that’s enough about the contents of porn.

As I mentioned last time, bookshops are happy to let you browse the books under normal circumstances, but there’s always one section tucked away at the back which you are not allowed to open books in, in any shop – and this porn section may be a single shelf or an entire back room.

Outside of this, the Japanese seem quite lax as far as access to porn goes – rather than being on the top shelf, lewd magazines are sold quite brazenly on the shelf furthest away from the door in most standard convenience stores.

Of course, animated and cartoon porn is brazenly popular. It is very easy to buy merchandise with scantily-clad anime girls – I base this knowledge on a course-mate who had folders for some of his subjects decorated with less scantily-clad but still kind of scanty anime girls, and a teacher (yes) who pulled a towel out of seemingly nowhere to offer as a prize in an in-class game of kanji bingo.

Obviously, we in the west seem VERY conservative when it comes to our porn – we just have the occasional woman baring her chest for advertising purposes. But, suffice it to say, there are reasons that “oh, Japan” is such a common phrase.

And a couple of these are probably the porn.
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