Aino-Utsushie (film)

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Date: 1988

Region: Asia

Subject: Explicit Sexuality

Medium: Film Video


Artist: Mr. Shuichi Tsuchikawa, producer

Confronting Bodies: Eirin, Independent censorship organisation

Dates of Action: February, 1988

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Description of Artwork: Aino-Utsushie, a quasi-documentry about nineteenth century woodblock prints. Some of these are the work of such well known artists as Utamaro and Hokusai; most are pornographic."

The Incident: The independent censorship organization, Eirin, wanted to cut the film. "... The censor's point is that sexually explicit woodblock prints, merely erotic when hung on a wall, become pornographic when made into a film... Mr. Tsuchikawa's contradictory case is that he is not showing on film anything tht can not be freely published on a page." "...( Eirin)has no legal powers to ban a film, but the rules of the Japan Association of Movie Promoters, which covers the owners of nearly all cinemas in the country, forbid its members to screen films that do not carry Eirins seal of approval... " Mr. Tsuchikawa twice appealed Eirin's decision and lost both times. He proceeded to circumvent the system altogether, screening "Aino-Utsushie" uncut in Hanamatsu, a town outside of Tokyo.

Results of Incident: The Japan Association of Movie Promoters learned of the unauthorized screening and forced the owner of the Hanamatsu cinema to resign from the association.

Source: The Economist, March 5, 1988, pg. 91-92)