One of the most refreshing things about Japan I find is that there is an exaltation of the human body and it can be seen in public sculptures.
The classic theme of the nude human body, as it was also glorified in ancient Greece, is found in gorgeous art work and sculptures that I have come across in parks, on streets or as central objects of view in Japan.
The human form in Japan – male and female – is not about shame as in the West. It’s about the fact of nature, the fertility of nature, of the beautiful, life-affirming nature of the female and beauty of the human form as nature naturally intended it.
Breasts, penises, vulvas – nothing is censored in these sculptures when you look closely and nothing is degraded or defiled either in its presentation. It’s respectful and natural.
Many sculptures even show nurturing themes of a woman and child and men.
Perhaps it’s because Japan’s sacred deity is the Sun Goddess Amaterasu.
And Japan’s creation myth is based on sex. The deities Izanagi and Izanami, (Japanese: “He Who Invites” and “She Who Invites”)
It’s pure nature, beautiful nature of human bodies that are part of Mother Earth, not alienated from her. The natural beings that we are and part of nature!
I’m posting here a collection of sculptures of the human form in pictures I have come across while living in Japan.
Nothing sinful or shameful. about them. Contrast this with sculptures in the United States, where military monuments are being pulled down, or Christians demanded Starbucks remove the bellybutton from its mermaid logo.
A belly button! And wanted to boycott Starbucks for showing a historical mermaid with breasts!
Sexually repressed cultures tend to be violent, no small wonder there! If these Japanese sculptures were to be exhibited in the U.S., they would be smashed with hammers!
No doubt Japan has great sculptures, but still has issues with women’s equality, as evidenced in the upset over a woman entering a sumo wrestling ring to aid a mayor who was having a stroke or the pressure to be cute, as Akie Abe, the wife of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said, is holding women back.
And of course there is a statue in San Francisco about Japan’s forced World War II comfort women that the Osaka mayor broke ties with its sister city over. Terrible stuff still happens, and sexual crimes of the past against women must be accounted for.
Yet it was U.S. Commodore Perry who forced Japan open in the 19th century with his war machine, and seeing men and women bathing naked together at onsen, promptly declared it immoral. Go figure!
Not that Japanese courtesans and Geishas of the past didn’t have difficult lives either, however, U.S. troops after World War II had their effect on the culture, misconstruing the women and their feminine art as prostitutes, effectively turning every port of call into the world into a whorehouse and there are definitely some sleazy sex clubs in Japan too. But I don’t believe in censorship. I believe in education.
Yet the sculptures I’ve seen since living here show a different side of Japan. One that is sex positive, embraces our human nature beautifully.
The beauty, for instance, of the women of Mikamoto Pearl Island of the past. Nothing sexualized about their nude bodies. It’s all natural and normal. The photographs in the above link are works of art.
Today, however, you see the women divers wearing white baggy uniforms that are said to protect against sharks. Modern Japanese men are also allowed to have their feminine side, can be seen carrying a purse, and not trapped in the hyper-toxic masculine model of America. And there is the famous Takaraza revue of an all women cast performing male roles as well. I believe this is healthy and does the psyche good.
Considering Emperor Constantine in the Fourth Century twisted Christianity into a psychological control tactic to quell the rebelling masses who hated the state, turning their own religion against them with self-loathing, guilt and sin. Read Erich Fromm’s The Dogma Of Christ!
Neurotic minds delight in sin for arousal, something Romans lacked. And we are supposed to think 50 Shades of Gray a novel about BDSM, is erotic! Good grief!
Even the U.S. Supreme Court declared it was OK to maim, torture and mutilate a woman in a video game, but not see her nude, yet rejected a ban on violent games for children! No wonder Catholic Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court!
That’s because Western history also turned the concept of pain into pleasure, promoting a link between sex and violence with dominator culture.
Read Riane Eisler’s Sacred Pleasure – Sex, Myth and the Politics of the Body. Denying our sacred sexual nature might might just be the source of all the horrible things going on in the world. Affirming it can bring peace.
For any culture that unnaturally cuts off half of humanity (and the psyche) and the creative life force you know just has to have problems. LOTS of problems
And it wasn’t just Christianity that turned Japan prude. Buddhists showed up in Japan bringing its patriarchy in the Sixth Century. Miko, or shrine maidens, used to have a much more significant role in Shintoism than now, and that’s more than I can get into here. But it involved sex. Additionally, Kabuki theatre was originally a lot of bawdy sexual poems, songs and stories. Men eventually banned women from the stage, and Kabuki theatre to this day remains all male.
Anyways. Enjoy these pictures and get back to nature!
It just might save the world and bring peace! Peace with our bodies and nature at least. Let’s have that war with nature over, please and heal the split in the psyche! Because the psyche knows it’s unnatural to cut half of itself off! And so it seeks to rebalance itself.
As Ernest Becker in his 1973 Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Denial of Death, says healing is a sense of body confidence. Something women sorely could use – and it’s about being confident in their bodies as natural, sexual beings. Men too!
Now, here is a photo of a sculpture of a woman outside the Publix grocery store in downtown Orlando, Florida.
What a contrast! The woman appears deformed, emaciated, lacking arms (ability to bring anything to herself)! No breasts, no vulva! Bizarre and gruesome! And just plain ugly!
Hard to find any other statues of women in Orlando, but there are plenty of war memorials!
Very glad I live in Japan!
More photos below!