Almost two years ago, Japanese police arrested artist Megumi Igarashi (also known as Rokudenashiko) for sharing the data necessary to 3D print a model of her vagina. The information was a reward for contributors to Igarashi’s campaign to build a kayak in the shape of her genitalia. That campaign was a success, and you can see her paddling happily in the vessel, pictured above.
Igarishi is on a mission to de-stigmatize vaginas in Japan with her lighthearted depictions of female genitalia. In addition to the kayak, she has constructed grass-dotted dioramas and depictions of a cartoonish character called ”manko” (Japanese slang for vagina), who has appeared shrouded, Yoda-like alongside Star Wars characters and shouting mightily from t-shirts and the cover of the artist’s book: What is Obscenity?
According to the authorities, the data for 3D-printing a model of Igarashi’s vagina is obscene. On Monday (May 9), Judge Mihoko Tanabe ruled that the artist was guilty of distributing obscene material, and fined her 400,000 yen ($3,690). Somewhat insultingly, the judge ruled that Igarashi’s vagina kayaki itself was not considered obscene, because it didn’t look that much like female genitalia.
The ruling strikes to the heart of Igarashi’s mission to normalize portrayals of vaginas in Japan—where pornography is a huge industry, but images of genitalia are outlawed. That said, an annual penis festival sees a giant bubblegum-pink member paraded through the streets and revelers lick phallus-shaped lollipops. Igarashi has said she aims to similarly make “pussy more casual and pop.”
And she has lots of supporters. After she was arrested in 2014, more than 17,000 people signed a petition for her release. According to the Guardian, an English translation Igarashi’s book is set to go on sale tomorrow (May 10). We haven’t seen the last of her manko.