But it has taken centuries-old works of art for the country to challenge official reticence towards graphic depictions of sex. In recent weeks, tens of thousands of people have flocked to a tiny museum in suburban Tokyo to cast their eyes over woodblock prints and paintings of couples, and sometimes groups, in the throes of sexual ecstasy. In one of the least explicit works, a semi-naked woman clutches a bamboo comb between her teeth, her gaze meeting that of the viewer. Others, though, abound with loosened or discarded kimono and the oversized genitalia of men and women in all manner of sexual contortions.
Exhibition of erotic Japanese art draws 200,000 visitors
CRAZY JAPANESE TV SHOW
The British Museum's new exhibition may be hardcore, but it's the humour and humanity that really thrills, says Adrian Hamilton. Can hardcore pornography ever be considered art? Not in the West, where the definition of high versus low art has long banished graphic depictions of sex to the realms of dirty men in mackintoshes and decadent connoisseurs of the perverse. Click here or on 'view gallery' to see more images of Japanese erotica. In Asia, it's been a quite different matter — as Westerners have sometimes been overexcited in proclaiming. There the sexual act was traditionally regarded as an open and normal activity, to be portrayed in pictures and books as much as medical almanacs and self-help guides.
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By Amie Gordon For Mailonline. Before the dawn of the internet, sex museums in tiny Japanese spa towns provided a refuge for locals seeking a frivolous and liberating form of entertainment. A breathtaking portfolio of photographs has now revealed the forgotten sexual relics gathering dust in the hihokan - or treasure palaces - in the Yamaguchi and Kansai prefectures in Japan. Extremely popular in the s and 80s, the museums would be seen as artistic rather than debauched and frequented by residents and tourists alike, keen to peruse the oddities on show - from sexually explicit taxidermy to paintings, interactive games and nude shows. Photos show the eclectic items now lying abandoned at the Japanese Sex Museum in Yamaguchi and at the Hokkaido House of Hidden Treasures near Sapporo, including mating horses and phallic sculptures.
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