Sex Education Films in Japan - Roland Domenig - 2006
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Japanologie · Kino · Film · Filmwissenschaft · Medienwissenschaft
Wir bedanken uns bei Herrn Dr Domenig für die Erlaubnis zur Veröffentlichung dieses Beitrags.
A HISTORY OF SEX EDUCATION FILMS IN JAPAN
- Mag. Dr. Roland Domenig
- Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften / Japanologie
- Universität Wien
- Erstveröffentlicht bei midnighteye.com
- Version des Beitrages auf midnighteye.com
Part 1 - The Pre-War Years
- There are several genres within Japan's large cinematic legacy which - for better or worse -haven't drawn much attention so far. One of these unexplored genres is the sex education film, which despite persistent criticism has at times enjoyed considerable popularity. Osan eiga, junketsu eiga, basukon eiga, seiten eiga, seikyoiku eiga - these and many more names were used at different times for films that were made with the - real or alleged - intention of educating and enlightening spectators about sexual matters. As varied as their name was the content of the films. The genre - if one can speak of a single genre at all - ranges from purely scientific documentaries for doctors to pseudo-scientific sexploitation films and consists of films with different formats, scopes and reception contexts. This series shall look at the history of sex education films in Japan, beginning with the pre-war period.
One aim of the Meiji government in its quest for modernization was the "improvement of body and soul" of its citizens (shinshin no kairyo). In order to resist the pressure from Western colonial powers the enhancement of the "nation body" or "Volkskörper" and "nation spirit" or "Volksgeist" had high priority. The enforcement of eisei, a newly coined term taken from the German "Gesundheitspflege" or "hygiene" introduced in 1872 by Sensai Nagayo, one of the key figures during the formation years of Japan's modern health system, became a central concern of doctors, bureaucrats and social reformers alike. Together with the promotion of modern science this resulted at the beginning of the 20th century in the establishment of the field of seigaku or "sexology" which was strongly influenced by the German Sexualwissenschaft. During the liberal Taisho period the seigaku discourse reached a peak before it was suppressed by the nationalistic policy of the 1930s and during the war.
Situated between academic and popular discourse seigaku became a kind of obsession of the mass-media which featured articles by experts on all kinds about sexually related topics from masturbation to venereal diseases, from the propagation of teiso (chastity) to the condemnation of hentai (perversion). Newspapers and magazines ran sex education series and counselling columns, and those whose curiosity was not satisfied by these could turn to one of the sexological magazines that flourished between 1917 and 1926 under titles like Hentai Seiyoku ("Pervert sexual desire"), Hentai Shinri ("Abnormal mentality"), Seiyoku to Jinsei ("Sexual desire and Life"), Sei ("Sexuality"), Seikagaku Kenkyu ("Sexological Studies"), Sei to Shakai ("Sexuality and Society"), Hentai Shiryo ("Pervert materials") or the interdisciplinary magazine Jinsei ("Der Mensch"). The seigaku boom was an integral part of the Taisho culture that - not unjustly - is often characterized by the catchphrase ero-guro-nansensu (erotic, grotesque, nonsensical).
The leading sexologist of this period, by the way, features prominently in Japanese film history, albeit only post mortem. The funeral procession of Senji Yamamoto, doctor, scientist, politician, social reformer and victim of a right wing assassin in 1929, was the topic of the first two films of the Proletarian Film League (Purokino). Both films can be watched online.
A declared aim of the sexologists was the dissemination of "correct" information about sexuality. For that purpose they used not only newspapers and magazines but also films. When exactly the first sex education film was shown in Japan is not clear. In the mid-1920s, however, at the peak of the seigaku boom, so-called osan eiga ("birth films") attracted attention. Norimasa Kaeriyama for instance mentions these films in his book Eiga no Seiteki Miwaku (Cinema's sexual attraction) published in 1928. These were scientific films mostly imported from Germany and made primarily for doctors. Kaeriyama gives no specific titles, but from his quotation of intertitles one can guess what kind of films these osan eiga must have been. From the fact that those quotations are in English one can assume that these films were not made for German doctors alone but for a larger international medical community:
- Vaginismus is a defensive action of muscles of the pelvic cavity and is caused by the fear of having the orifice of the vagina and its adjoing (sic!) parts come in contact with some object.
- As soon as the white dabber approaches the orifice of the vagina and even before it touches the latter, the patient contracts the muscles of the pelvic cavity as an expression of fear and by doing so closes the orifice of the vagina.
- The fear of having the orifice of the vagina touched is here caused by soreness of the perineum, and under the circumstances even a slight touch of the external genitals is extremely painful.
The intertitles would fit the film Chitsukeigaku to Sono Ryoho (Vaginismus and its medical treatment) made by the University of Frankfurt, were it not that the latter is listed in the Japanese Film Censorship Newsletter of 1935, that is seven years after the publication of Kaeriyama's book. In any case, Kaeriyama sarcastically remarks that one has to be German to make a film like this.
Whereas this specific film appears to actually have been made for use in medical classrooms, Kaeriyama also states that not all osan eiga were like this. Among them were also films that according to him "look more like they were made to satisfy the sexual rather than the scientific curiosity" and it is perhaps no coincidence that Kaeriyama mentions them together with the so-called himitsu eiga ("secret films") or stag films. Stag films (himitsu eiga or waieiga) were first imported from Europe and China and were shown in "secret societies" from the beginning of the Taisho period onward. In the early Showa period the domestic production of stag films started. They were of course officially forbidden and the police cracked down on them. The line between osan eiga and himitsu eiga was in any case not clear and - as with later films - the intentions of the producers were not necessarily identical with the intentions of the exhibitors or the expectations of the viewers.
As with stag films the circulation of osan eiga seems to have been rather limited, though there were cases where some of them were shown in regular cinemas. Koichiro Ogura, too, mentions osan eiga in his book Sekai Eiga Fuzoku-shi (History of Eroticism in World Cinema) published in 1931. He states that these films were primarily made for scientific purposes, but that the motivations of some exhibitors were less noble than those of their producers. A cinema owner, who scented a chance to make money, put one of these films on display at his cinema. He announced the film very sensationally, putting up big "adults only" signs (which at that time meant older than 20) and hired lecturers - these were still the benshi days - who talked about pregnancy, childbirth, venereal diseases and other sexual matters. Ogura quotes an acquaintance who had acted as such a lecturer. According to him it was not unusual that some of the ladies fainted during the show. In an adjacent room they had spread blankets on which the women could recover from their shock. At times, he recalls, up to seven ladies were stuffed into the tiny room. The film was shown to great success for a month, but when the exhibitor tried to get a permission to prolong the show his request was denied by the authorities. Ogura (who clearly knew Kaeriyama's book) also mentions no title, so it is difficult to determine what film this was. But it can safely be assumed that the film was less explicit than the intertitles in Kaeriyama's book suggest, because censorship regulations were quite strict.
In any case, the above example was rather the exception than the rule. Usually such films were not allowed to be shown at the cinemas. The authorities imposed certain conditions as to where and under what circumstances the films could be shown. The film Chi no Teki for instance passed censorship in 1935, but with the restriction that it be used "only for medical lectures" (eisei kowa kaijo ni kagiri). The film was imported from Germany where it had had a regular cinema release in 1931 under the title Feind im Blut (Enemy in the Blood). It was one of the so-called Sittenfilme that flourished in the Weimar republic. Feind im Blut was directed by Walter Ruttmann who had attracted attention as the director of the avant-garde documentary Berlin - Symphonie einer Großstadt (1927). From the aesthetical point of view the film is very interesting because it combines documentary and fiction, avant-garde with more conventional elements, silent film with sound, and it is an important document of the cinema of the late Weimar republic. Feind im Blut aka Chi no Teki belonged to the subgenre of the so-called seibyo keimo eiga ("venereal disease enlightenment films") - in Germany they were known as "Syphilis-Filme" - which drastically presented the effects of venereal diseases and denounced the dangers of prostitution. Another film imported from Germany which treated the problem of venereal diseases in a more conventional way was Falsche Scham - Vier Episoden aus dem Leben eines Arztes (False Shame - Four episodes from the life of a doctor) directed by Rudolf Biebrach for the UFA Kulturfilm division in 1925. In Japan it was shown under the title Ayamateru Shuchi, but as Chi no Teki it could be shown only in the context of a "medical lecture".
The military in particular regarded the prevalence of venereal diseases as a high priority problem and employed seibyo keimo eiga in order to raise the awareness of the recruits. In addition to imported films like Chi no Teki, Seibyo ni Tsuite (Venereal Diseases) or Sei no Tanawari (The Gift of Life), the Monbusho commissioned several such films. Karyubyo (Venereal Diseases, 1935) and Suizan no Aki (Emaciated Autumn, 1935) were made in cooperation with the Japanese Association for the Prevention of Venereal Disease (Nihon seibyo yobo kyokai), the predecessor of today's Japanese Foundation for Sexual Health Medicine (Sei no kenko igaku zaidan). The Association was founded as "Nihon Karyubyo yobo kyokai" in 1905 by Keizo Tobi and Shinpei Goto and renamed "Nihon Seibyo yobo kyokai" in 1921. The shift from the old term for venereal disease karyubyo to the new term seibyo is significant, because - as Hikaru Saito has shown - the term sei for "sexuality" became established only in the second and third decade of the 20th century. Before that the terms iro, shiki, shoku and in were used - thus, shikijo, koshoku and inyoku all were replaced by seiyoku (sexual passion, lust). It was in the 1920s and 1930s that new words like seiyoku (sexual desire), seihanzai (sexual crime), seibyo (sexually transmitted disease), seikyoiku (sexual education), seigaku (sexology), seiseikatsu (sex life) and many others were created. This tendency can also be observed in the books of Kaeriyama and Ogura, who include sex education films and stag films in the category "seiteki eiga" ("sexual films"). The most commonly used words for the sex education films of the 1920s and 1930s, however, seem to have been osan eiga and karyubyo eiga.
The term eiga, by the way, was also rather new, because the more common term during the Taisho period for film was katsudo shashin (moving pictures). The term eiga was introduced in the late 1910s by the reformers of the pure film movement (jun'eigageki undo) around Norimasa Kaeriyama. Originally it was used for the slides of the laterna magica.
While venereal diseases remained a high priority topic during the war years, the other intensively discussed issue of the 1920s (especially after Margaret Sanger's visit to Japan in 1922), family planning and birth control, lost its importance in the 1930s. The military was not interested in birth control and contraception, but on the contrary in a high birth rate and in many children, i.e. future soldiers. The debate resurfaced only after the war when the American occupation authorities actively preached birth control and family planning. This gave rise to the so-called basukon eiga (birth control film) and kazoku keikaku eiga (family planning film), which shall be discussed in Part 2.
Part 2 - The Post-War Years and The Basukon Eiga
- At the end of World War II Japan was confronted with a serious problem of overpopulation. The repatriation of its citizens from the former colonies, a baby boom despite the miserable economic condition of the immediate post-war years and the resulting food shortages led to an intensive discussion of Japan's population problem. "Surplus population" (kajo jinko) became a media buzzword of the period. Birth control and family planning thus became urgent tasks and sparked the so-called basukon eiga ("birth control films") that will be the topic of Part 2 of the series "A History of Sex Education Films in Japan".
The occupation authorities were aware of the problem of "surplus population" in Japan, but they did not pursue a consistent policy as to what measures should be taken. General MacArthur held the view that ordering the Japanese to practice birth control or even ordering a national policy on the subject would be both unworkable and undesirable. This was one reason why Margaret Sanger, the pioneer of the birth control movement in the United States, was denied a visa to Japan by MacArthur in 1950. She was allowed to visit Japan only after the occupation ended in 1952, 30 years after her first visit to Japan. Colonel Crawford F. Sams, the head of the Public Health and Welfare Section of General Headquarters, also stated that SCAP policy was strictly neutral and that it was the Japanese government that had to decide what to do about Japan's population problem. In an interview in February 1946, however, Sams also argued that the Japanese had three options to come to terms with overpopulation: food imports, emigration, and birth control. Since the first two were not possible in the immediate or near future, birth control was the only option. A clear advocate of birth control was Warren S. Thompson, who from 1947 to 1949 studied the population problem for the GHQ. Thompson was a leading authority in population studies, head of the Scripps Foundation for Research in Population Problems in Ohio and the author of notable works on international population dynamics. In his 1929 book Danger Spots in World Population he had warned that Japan might solve its overpopulation problem by expansion to the Asian continent and that peace in Asia was threatened. The book generated little interest among Western policymakers at the time, but caused a considerable stir in Japan. Two translations were published in 1931, the year of Japan's invasion of Manchuria. The Japanese military welcomed the book, as they thought the recognition of its population problem helped to justify Japanese imperialism. In March 1949 Thompson proclaimed that because an increase in food production and an expansion of trade alone could not support the rapidly growing Japanese population, birth control was the only effective measure to counter Japan's "surplus population".
At first the Japanese government was reluctant to implement birth control programs. While Shizue Kato, the figure head of the pre-war birth control movement, called for effective birth control measurements and supported a revision of the Eugenic Law, the conservatives opposed the legalization of abortion. They feared that the propagation of contraception and sex education would lead to a moral decline. In 1948 the Eugenic Law was revised, but it was not before around 1950 that the government started to take a more active role in implementing a birth control and family planning policy. The main reason for this change was the post-war baby boom that had led to a sudden increase in population.
The media devoted considerable space to the debate on family planning and birth control, and the abbreviations "BC", "basukon", and "sansei" (from sanji seigen, the Japanese word for birth control) became media catchwords. Newspapers and magazines were full of advertisements for condoms, oral contraceptives, gynaecological clinics, as well as related books and brochures.
Apart from pamphlets and brochures the favourite medium for disseminating knowledge about birth control and family planning was films. At first mainly imported education films were shown, but soon such films were made in Japan as well. They were either commissioned by the Ministry of Health as, for instance, the film Boshi Techo (Maternal and Child Health Book, 1947) or financed by semi-official organisations or pharmaceutical companies. In 1947 the biggest of those, Takeda Yakuhin, sponsored the film Osan no Eiga (Film about Birth), made under the auspices of Prof. Furukawa, a gynaecologist at Nagoya University. While these early films were rather moderate in addressing sexual matters, the films made after 1949 confronted the issue in a more straightforward fashion. They came to be known as basukon eiga or "birth control films", but (as with the term osan eiga before the war) the term did not refer to a unified group of films, but to a variety of different films ranging from scientific films for medical education to alleged educational films for erotic stimulation. In the early 1950s these films were shown in cinemas, strip shows, milk bars and many other places, either in special "sex education" programs or in mixed programs together with more or less "spicy" fare.
Let us take a closer look at one such program. At an antiquarian bookstore in Takamatsu I came across the handbill of a program of sex education films advertised as "Sex Film Festival" (sei no eiga taikai). From the production dates of the films and an announcement of the Shochiku production Haha Yobu Tori (first released in July 1949) it can be deduced that the program was shown sometime in 1950. The cinema where the program was shown, the Kaguraza, was not located in Takamatsu, but in Matsusaka in Mie Prefecture. It had gained some fame because of Yasujiro Ozu, who as a boy lived nearby. He later recalled that without the Kaguraza he would not have become a film director. The program of the three-day "Sex Film Festival" at the Kaguraza consisted of two films, Utsukushiki Honno (Beautiful instinct) and Ai no Dohyo (A Guide to Love). Utsukushiki Honno was produced by Rajio Eiga, an independent production company established in February 1947 by Sadao Imamura, who is also credited as the director of the film. Before the war, Imamura had been vice director of the production department of the Oizumi Studios of Shinko Kinema (today's Toei Movie Studios), after the war he established his own production company, Rajio Eiga, and produced mostly education films, scientific films and (semi-) documentaries about animals. Rajio Eiga came to fame with the sex education film Utsukushiki Honno, and Imamura continued to make sensationalist films that the Eiga Nenkan (Film Yearbook) of 1951 describes as "representative junk films of the postwar era" (sengo ni okeru getemono eiga no daihyosaku).
Utsukushiki Honno consisted of four parts: 1. "The miracle of procreation" (seishoku no kyoi), 2. "Physiology of a virgin" (shojo no seiri), 3. "Sexual desire and love" (seiyoku to ai), and 4. "The morals of passion" (aiyoku no rinri). The aim of the film, according to the handbill, was "to explain the menstruation of women and the mystery of the body as well as to teach correct knowledge about sexuality". The script was written by Ryuzaburo Shikiba, a fascinating character who was quite well-known at the time. Born in 1898, he had studied medicine, specialising in psychology, and becoming a pioneer of psychopathology (seishinbyorigaku) in Japan. Beside his work as doctor, he was a prolific writer. He published books not only on medical topics (mostly psychology), but also on many other subjects ranging from Marquis de Sade and folk art - he was a member of the mingei undo (folk art movement) of the 1930s - to impressionist painting (five dozen books on Vincent van Gogh alone). His interest in painting becomes obvious in his promotion of Kiyoshi Yamashita, a mentally handicapped painter who was praised as the "Japanese van Gogh" and who came to be known as "Hadaka no Taisho" (Naked General) (this was also the title of Hiromichi Horikawa's film about Yamashita's life). Among Shikiba's bestsellers were Onna no Kokoro, Onna no Karada (The female heart and the female body, 1937), Hitozuma no Kyoyo (Education of married women, 1940) and Shojo no Kokoro (The Heart of a Virgin, 1945), all of which dealt also with "sex education" topics.
After the war Shikiba became an important publisher. In 1946 he founded the publishing house Tokyo Times and the publishing company Romance that published among others the journal Fujin Sekai and the film magazine Eiga Star as well as Romance, one of the kasutori zasshi of the postwar years, i.e. cheap and sensational magazines with a lot of sexual content. But he also published Takashi Nagai's international bestseller Nagasaki no Kane (Bell of Nagasaki) about the aftermath of the atomic bomb. In short, Shikiba was a unique character who did not distinguish between high art and pulp, but whose main profession as psychiatrist and doctor underpinned his belief in the importance of disseminating knowledge about sexuality and sex education, whether in the form of writing or film. His cooperation in Utsukushiki Honno can be seen as a sign of his genuine wish to enlighten the audience about sexual matters. The motto of the "Sex Film Festival" at the Kaguraza - "Playing with the fire of youth is dangerous. Let's grasp the knowledge about sexuality correctly" (Seishun no hiasobi wa abunai - Sei no chishiku o tadashiku tsukamo) - may well have been by Ryuzaburo Shikiba.
While Utsukushiki Honno can best be described as a sex education film, the other film of the program, Ai no Dohyo, was a more typical basukon eiga. The handbill recommends the 21-minute long film "especially to young women" which meant women older than 20, because only adults were admitted. The declared aim of Ai no Dohyo was "to teach the theory and practice of contraception". According to the handbill the film consisted of three parts: 1. "Why is contraception important?", 2. "Pregnancy and contraception", 3. "Contraception methods: the use of contraceptives and contraception devices (hinin kigu) and the practice of irrigation (senjoho no jissai)". The full title of the film was Ai no dôhyô - Ninshin Chuzetsu o Chushin to Shite (A Guide to Love - All Around Abortion). It was produced by the independent production company Osaka Eigajin Shudan (Osaka Filmmaker Group). Little is known about the director Yutaka Takeshima except that, after the war, he directed numerous PR films in Osaka as well as two documentaries about women wrestling (released by Daiei and Shintoho), or about the scriptwriter Masaaki Nagao.
About the producer Takashi Nishihara we have rather more information. He was born in 1901 in Toyko, joined Nikkatsu in 1930 and became assistant director of Daisuke Ito. From 1934 he worked as director, directing mostly jidaigeki, first for Nikkatsu, then for Daiichi Eiga and finally for Shinko Eiga. After the war he turned to producing, he joined the newly established Toei studios and worked with directors such as Kunio Watanabe, Yasushi Sasaki and Nobuo Nakagawa. When Nikkatsu re-entered film production in 1955, Nishihara moved on to the studio where his career has started. In 1959 he again took to directing, this time educational and PR films, some of which won him the Industrial Film Award in 1969 and 1970. Among his educational films there were sex education films such as Musume ga Otona ni Natta Toki (When a Girl Becomes an Adult, 1965) or Kodomo ni Sei no Gimon ni Kotaeru (Answering the Questions of Children About Sexuality, 1965).
Ai no Dohyo was shot in summer of 1949 and got released on 19 March 1950 by Shochiku, which also distributed Utsukushiki Honno (released on 18 August 1949). On 27 February 1950, the film passed the inspection of Eirin, the Film Ethics Regulation Control Commission or self-regulation body of the Japanese film industry that had been established a few months before. The film was thought lost until a copy resurfaced in Naha on Okinawa in 1998. The copy seems to have been smuggled there, because no imports were allowed from the Japanese mainland to US-controlled Okinawa in those days. The rediscovered film has therefore been termed "yami firumu" or "illegal film". It is now stored at the National Film Center in Tokyo. It is quite harmless without explicit sexual scenes (contraception methods are explained with simple line drawing animation). The film nevertheless caused some excitement when it was confiscated on 13 November 1952 by the Tokyo police together with two other films - Wakodo e no Hanamuke (Farewell Present to a Young Man) and Kagiri naki Kodakara (Eternally Blessed with Children) - which had been shown at the Asakusa Rokku-za, the Asakusa Romansu-za and the Shinjuku Central. The confiscated print of Ai no Dohyo did not carry the Eirin mark, but instead featured additional scenes that a report in the New Year issue 1953 of Kinema Junpo described as "lascivious scenes" (senjoteki na bamen). To add additional scenes seems to have been a common practice at the time, because the films were not only shown with the aim of enlightening the audience about sex education (as perhaps the program at the Kaguraza was), but also for less noble reasons.
Around 1951/1952 the basukon eiga boom reached a peak. In addition to real educational films pseudo birth control films also appeared. Some of those films had particularly sensational titles such as Ai no Subako (Hive of Love), Shojomaku no Shinpi (The Mystery of the Hymen) or Shojomaku no Kaibo (Autopsy of the Hymen) - the latter earned the resourceful producer 3.000 to 5.000 yen per day -, but their content was in general less sensational. Apparently the curiosity of the audience to get a glimpse of something possibly prohibited or previously unseen was stronger than the frustration caused by unfulfilled expectations. Strip show venues started to show the films, and so did hot spring resorts. In his book Heso no Mieru Gekijo (The theatre where belly buttons can be seen, 1953), Fukujiro Mori, the manager of the Asakusa-za, one of the leading strip venues in Tokyo, remembers the enormous success of a mixed program with a 20 minute basukon eiga and a 25 minute live strip show for 40 Yen at his theatre: "The tiny theatre that is already overcrowded at 100 people, was jam-packed with 150 people. When some people tried to move in the crowded space that did not allow any movement, the wainscotting and the pipes behind it broke and the sewage spilled over the feet of the audience. The audience, however, didn't care at all, but continued to watch the program."
The films sailed close to the wind and sometimes crossed the legal border, as the example above illustrates, but they have to be distinguished from the stag films (waisetsu eiga, waieiga or Y-eiga) that also started to flourish at the time. These pornographic films were also shown at hot spring resorts and in the back rooms of Asakusa and other entertainment quarters, but they were clearly illegal and underground, whereas basukon eiga belonged to the public sphere. Often producers and exhibitors sought to camouflage erotic films by giving them a "medical touch" and presenting them as "sex education films". There were, on the other hand, also educational films that pretended to be lewder stuff than they actually were.
In 1952 a cinema in Shibuya, for instance, presented a "Sex education film festival" (seikyoiku eiga taikai). For an entrance fee of 100 yen the audience could watch four films: Sei no Honno (Sex Instinct), Hana aru Dokuso (Poisonous Plant in Bloom), Ratai (Naked Body) and Sanji Seigen no Chishiki (Knowledge about Birth Control). The last one was clearly a basukon eiga that was made in the late 1940s for educational purposes and approved by the C.I.E., the occupation authority in charge of film regulation. Curiously it was this film which got the cinema owner into trouble. The police confiscated the film because parts of it were considered obscene and thus in violation of §175. What had been permitted during the occupation was not necessarily allowed after Japan regained its independence. This incident, however, did not deter the owner of the cinema from presenting another program, advertised as "2nd Sex and Nudity Special" (Dainikai sei to hadaka tokushu). This program consisted of such films as Nikutai no Akuma (The Evil of Flesh), Onnakengeki no Seitai (Mode of Life of Female Sword Play) and Hadaka ni Natta Otohimesama (The Young Princess Who Got Naked). The latter was a salacious comedy produced by Fuji Eiga in cooperation with a strip theatre in Tokyo. It featured several leading striptease stars of the time such as Akemi Nara, Harumi Sono and R. Temple as well as young comedians like Norihei Miki and Nobuo Chiba on their ascent to comedy stardom.
Hadaka ni Natta Otohimesama was also part of another program that illustrates how diverse the films of such "specials" were and that different interests were at stake. In 1952 a distributor of such films ran into trouble with the local federation of exhibitors. The Kanto Koshin'etsu branch of the Japanese Entertainment Industry Federation (Nihon Kogyo Rengokai) ordered its members to refrain from showing the program, because the films were deemed "inappropriate" (amari kanshin dekinai). Such a call for self-restraint (jishuku) was unheard of and the distributor countered with the argument that all films were either approved by Eirin or the Occupation authorities and that the call was illegal, libelous and slanderous. The controversy kept the involved parties busy for quite a while, but the exhibitor lobby could not prevent the program being shown. It consisted of 8 films, among them Hadaka no Otohimesama and Utsukushiki Honno as well as Jinko Jusei (Artificial Insemination), Sutorippu Tokyo (Tokyo Strip), Osan to Minzoku (People and Birth) and Jonetsu no Hadaka Onna (Passionate Naked Women). The program is typical in its eclecticism, which can be compared to the later Mondo films. Sutorippu Tokyo was a 1950 striptease film that featured Motomi Hirose, the reigning striptease star of the Shinjuku Central Gekijo, who also starred in several Shintoho films such as Umetsugu Inoue's Seishun no Dekameron (Decameron of Youth, 1950). Jinko Jusei, on the other hand, was a film about artificial insemination of Holstein cattle, directed by Taketaka Yagisawa, a scriptwriter at Shochiku. It was first released in September 1949 as Horusutain Monogatari (Holstein Story) after Eirin had objected to the title Jinko Jusei.
With time such programs became more daring. As in the pre-war period, the line between sex education film and sex film was very fine indeed. In April 1955 the Ueno Star-za, for instance, presented a special advertised as "Treasured Clinical Medicine - 2nd Sex Film Special" (Hizo rinsho igaku dainikai naigai seieiga taikai). Six films were shown: Wakaki Hitozuma no Seiten (The Sexuality of a Young Married Woman), Jotai Shinpisei no Kaimei (Unravelling the Mystique of the Female Body), Junketsu o Nerau Otoko (Men Aiming at Chastity), Sekai Kakkoku no Seihokoku (Sex Reports from Around the World), Momoiro Paradaisu (Pink Paradise) and Chimata no Dokuso (The Poisonous Plant of Public Spaces). The program was also shown at the Fujikan in Sugamo where it caught the attention of the police. The owners of both cinemas were investigated on suspicion of violation of §175 of the penal code, i.e. distribution of obscene material. The cause of the police intervention was Wakaki Hitozuma no Seiten which originally had been made under the auspices of the Red Cross Birth Clinic in Hiroo to promote safe child birth. This typical basukon eiga - its original title was Mutsu Bunben (Painless Childbirth) -, had passed the Eirin inspection in January 1954. The print seized by the police, however, had a different title and close-ups of female genitals inserted into the film. What had not been altered was the original Eirin mark, but this was not the first time that the Eirin mark had been abused.
Such incidents gave the police a reason to crack down on offenders and put pressure on distributors and exhibitors. The boom of basukon eiga reached its peak around 1952 and then faded fairly quickly, not only because the police took harder action, but also because the initial curiosity of the audience began to wane and not least because the films of the major film studios had become more "sexy".
The discussion about birth control was, of course, not restricted to the post-war period, but continued during the period of high economic growth. Thus, the demand for correct knowledge did not decrease, and films about birth control, family planning and sex education continued to be made for public education as well as for use in schools. For instance, the JFPA, the Japan Family Planning Association (Nihon Kazoku Keikaku Kyokai), established in 1954, commissioned educational films to promote family planning. Their first film was ordered by the Ministry of Health in order to promote its birth control program. Since the JFPA did not have much of a budget at its disposal, the film is said to have been pre-financed by the later Minister for Health Tatsuo Osawa, who at the time was still only a section chief at this same ministry. In 1956 the JFPA commissioned another film, Kazoku Keikaku Daiippo (The First Step to Family Planning), which warned of the dangers of abortions and emphasized the importance of an active family planning. The 30-minute long 16mm film was produced by Erumu Eiga and directed by Kajiro Yamamoto, who had come to fame in the 1930s with comedies starring comedian Enoken. I found the film in the archive of the JFPA, but have never seen it listed in a filmography of Kajiro Yamamoto.
A survey of birth control films would not be complete without mentioning a group of films that were not made with the explicit intention of educating its audience, but that may very well have contributed to the enlightenment of some of the viewers. In the 1960s and early 1970s a number of so-called pink eiga, the Japanese variant of sexploitation films, made fun of the birth control debate. One of the first was Masao Adachi's Datai (Abortion) about a crazy gynaecologist who wants to liberate mankind from sexual problems by radically separating sex on the one hand and reproduction, which should be left to artificial wombs, on the other. For the opening scene Adachi used a birth scene from an older 16mm sex education film, either a pre-war osan eiga (see Part 1) or a post-war basukon eiga. Datai was Adachi's first pink eiga, and his next film Hinin Kakumei (Birth Revolution, 1967) again features the crazy gynaecologist, whose name, by the way, is Marukido Sadao, a pun on Marquis de Sade. Adachi used the name again in his script for Koji Wakamatsu's infamous The Embryo Hunts in Secret (Taiji ga Mitsuryo Suru Toki, 1967) in which the protagonist is driven by his wish to return into the maternal uterus - an inventive variation of the "birth film". Adachi was not alone in mocking the birth control discourse. Shunya Yamamoto ridiculed the issue in Ninshin - Bunben - Chuzetsu (Pregnancy - Childbirth - Abortion, 1968) and Seika Sodan Kanzen naru Hinin (Sex Counseling - The Perfect Contraception, 1969), and so did Kinya Ogawa in Seiri to Ninshin (Menses and Pregnancy, 1968) and Osan to Hinin (Birth and Contraception, 1969) or Kôji Seki in Koi - Ninshin/Chuzetsu (Conduct - Pregnancy/Abortion, 1973). And we must not forget Takae Shindo's Chuzetsu Shujutsu (Abortion Surgery, 1969), which was produced by the originally named production company Young Men Art Film Association (Seinen Bijutsu Eikyo).
Most of these films shared the common fate of pink eiga, i.e. they were soon forgotten. The films of the major studios dealing with the birth control issue fared rather better. Yuzo Kawashima, for instance, seized on the topic in his first film for Nikkatsu after leaving Shochiku. Ai no Onimotsu (Burden of Love, 1955) revolves around a health minister who, pressed by the opposition parties in parliament, presents a plan for the establishment of a birth control office in order to do something about the increase in population. In his family, however, everyone gets pregnant: His wife at age 48, his secretary from his son, his daughter from her fiancé, and even the young girlfriend of his old uncle, who lives at his holiday house in Hakone. The satire is a loose adaptation of André Roussin's play Lorsque l'Enfant Paraît (When the child appears) which had been staged in Tokyo by the theatre troupe Bungeiza in December 1953 under the title Akanbo Sho (Baby Sho) and which was a huge success. Kawashima could not obtain the right for a film adaptation, however, because they had already been sold to Michel Boisrond, who completed his film in 1956. Kawashima and his scriptwriter Ruiji Yanagisawa were therefore forced to rearrange the story and change the dialogue.
Birth control, contraception, and abortion as well as sexual topics were also an integral part of another group of films made in the early 1950s by the major film studios, the so-called seiten eiga or "sex encyclopedia films" which shall be discussed in Part 3 of the series.
Part 3 - The Seiten Films
In the 1950s the major film studios in Japan produced a number of films dealing in one way or another with sexual education. These so-called seiten eiga films can be divided into two groups: a smaller one produced mostly by Shochiku in 1950 and a larger group produced by several major companies between mid-1952 and early 1954. The former are the subject of part 3, the latter will be dealt with in part 4 of the series "A history of Japanese sex education films".
Japanese dictionaries are rather vague when it comes to the term seiten. Sanshodo's Kojirin, Kodansha's Nihongo daijiten and Kodansha's Nihongo daijiten have no entries at all. Shogakukan's Nihon kokugo daijiten loosely defines seiten as "books in which various things are written about sexual matters" (sei no kotogara ni tsuite iroiro to kaite aru shomotsu), Shogakukan's Daijisen also generally defines it as "books written about sexuality" (sei ni tsuite kakarete iru shomotsu). Gakken's Kokugo daijiten more specifically defines seiten as "books explaining about sexuality" (sei ni kansuru koto o kaisetsu shita hon), and Iwanami's Kojien defines it as "books made for the purpose of providing sexual knowledge" (seichishiki o ataeru tame ni tsukutta hon). The Japanese Wikipedia has no particular entry, but a category "seiten" specified as "textbooks about sexuality" (sei ni tsuite no kyokasho), with links to "Kama Sutra", "Aranga Ranga" and Van de Velde's "The Perfect Marriage". Depending on the context, seiten can be translated as "sex encyclopedia", "sex handbook" or "sex manual".
The term seiten was first coined in the 1920s, when the new term sei gained ground and replaced older terms for sexuality such as iro or shiki (see part 1). Akatsu Nobumasa's book Seiten, first published by Seibundo in August 1927 as third volume of its Dai Nihon hyakka zenshu (Great Encyclopedia of Japan) series, was the first book featuring seiten in its title. Akatsu, a medical doctor, was a student of the famous Japanese bacteriologist Noguchi Hideyo, who had discovered the agent of syphilis in 1911 (his image adorns today's 1000 Yen bill). Akatsu translated several of Noguchi's books originally written in English into Japanese - e.g. his Serum diagnosis of syphilis (1911; jp. Baidoku no kessei shindan 1918) - and wrote a number of books on syphilis and other venereal diseases himself, such as Osoroshii seibyo no konchi to densen yobo (Cure and prevention of dreadful venereal diseases; 1926), Shinkei suijaku chihosho to baidoku (Neurasthenia, Dementia and Syphilis; 1927) and Seikun (Sex instructions; 1928). The latter, featuring the alternative German title Ein Ratgeber für Geschlechtskranke (Guidebook for people with venereal disease), was published as special issue of Kodansha's "Pocket Book" series and was intended as a sex education book for the masses. Sex education (seikyoiku) and social education (shakai kyoka) was also the self-declared aim of Akatsu's Seiten. In the preface Akatsu defines as the book's purpose the diffusion of "only scientifically correct knowledge" (nanigoto mo kagakuteki ni tadashii chishiki). The 530-page volume treats every possible aspect of sexuality in a sober and factual manner and lives up to its title "Sex encyclopedia". A reprint was published after the war, in 1948. The publisher Toseisha, however, split it into two parts and published them as Seiten kyoiku-hen (Sex Encyclopedia - Education) and Seiten byori-hen (Sex Encyclopedia - Pathology).
Even more successful than Akatsu's "Sex Encyclopedia" was the book of the same title written by Habuto Eiji and published by Hokodo Shoten in January 1928, less than half a year after Akatsu's book. Habuto was also a medical doctor and gynaecologist as well as a very prolific writer of popular books on sexual matters and sexology. He had briefly studied in Germany, the "motherland" of Sexualwissenschaft; in 1915 he had written, together with Sawada Junjiro, the highly popular Hentai seiyokuron (Studies of sexual perversion) along the lines of Richard von Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis (1886). That Habuto's book Seiten was also very popular can be seen from the number of reprints. In 1934, the Ginyokai Shuppanbu published the 10th edition. [Although best known for his sexological books, Habuto also wrote a book on cinema, Kinema suta no sugao to hyojo (The honest face and facial expression of film stars; Nankai Shoin 1928), in which he portrays 70 film stars of his time.]
Similarly popular was Shimada Hiroshi's Onna seiten - Fujin no igaku (Sex Encyclopedia for Women - Medicine for Ladies), first published in September 1928 by Seibundo. When the publisher Kinseido reissued the comprehensive volume in 1939 it was the book's 49th edition.
The books mentioned above are typical for the liberal 1920s when "sexological studies" flourished in Japan. With the rise of Japanese nationalism and militarism in the 1930s, however, these sexological studies were deemed unnecessary or even dangerous and, with a few exceptions like the above mentioned Onna seiten, which became a bestselling manual for pregnant women, they more or less vanished from the publisher's catalogues.
After the war, the occupation authorities replaced the strict censorship regulations of the wartime regime with a new and - at least with respect to sexual matters - less restrictive censorship code. This had an immediate effect on the publishing market which was flooded with more or less explicit books and magazines, including numerous publications featuring the label "seiten". From the serious educational to the sensationalist bawdy, the range of these seiten books and articles was quite amazing.
For one thing, the classical seiten - the Kama Sutra and Aranga Ranga from India, Le jardin parfumé from Arabia or the El-Ktab from Turkey - were published for the first time legally in Japan. At least three different translations of the Kama Sutra had been published before the war - most importantly a translation from the Sanskrit by the eminent indologist Izumi Hoei, Indo aiko bunkenko, published privately in 1928 by Bungei Shiryo Kenkyukai. Like the other pre-war translations, however, these were private publications and banned by the authorities.
In 1947 Takahashi Tetsu, who in the coming decades would become Japan's most widely known sexologist, compiled a volume about these forbidden books with the title Hakkin toshokan seiaijutsu-hen and the English subtitle Study on the Sale Prohibited Literature in Japan. The Civil Information and Education department (CIE) of the US occupation forces raised objections to the book and stopped its sale. In 1948 it was re-issued under a different title, Seiten kenkyu seiaijutsu-hen (Sex encyclopedia studies - Love techniques; Seikagaku Shiryo Kankokai, 1948), and this time it passed censorship. In the same year Fuyosha published Ogata Osamu's Zukai seiten (Illustrated sex encyclopedia), which followed Maki Kiyoshi's Seiten (Izumi Shobo, 1947).
The bulk of seiten literature, however, was rather more sensational and bawdy; it was published in the vast number of magazines, generally known as kasutori zasshi, which mushroomed in the late 1940s and which, often under the banner of "education" and "enlightenment", provided its readers with juicy stories and titillating entertainment. They featured a large number of seiten specials or published special seiten issues. The magazine Daiichi yomimono for instance put out a rinji zokan (extra issue) in 1949 entitled Kanzen naru seiten (The perfect sex encyclopedia). The title was of course a pun on Theodoor Hendrik van de Velde's popular bestselling book Het volkomen huwelijk (The Perfect Marriage, 1926) which was first published in Japan in 1946 by Fumoto-sha under the title Kanzen naru kekkon and which itself became a seiten classic.
In March 1949, and here we finally get to the films, the magazine Heibon started a new serialized novel with the title Otome no seiten (Sex encyclopedia of a maiden) by popular writer Koito Nobu, which was made into a film by Shochiku. Koito Nobu, born in 1905, was one of the most successful female writers of popular fiction in the post-war period. In the same year, 1949, her novel Omokage (Face) was nominated for the Naoki Award, which after a five year break was resumed again that year. She had been closely connected with Shochiku since 1941 when a script of hers which she had submitted (under her real name Koito Shinobu) to a "national film screenplay contest" (kokumin eiga kyakuhon boshu) held by the Cabinet Information Bureau was selected and turned by Shochiku into the film Hahakogusa (Cottonweed) directed by Tasaka Tomotaka (a remake was directed by Yamamura So in 1959). [Runner-up of the contest, by the way, was Kurosawa Akira, then still assistant director at Toho.] With Ichikawa Tetsuo's Haha no hi (Light of a mother, 1947) and Takagi Koichi's Shoya futatabi (First night once more, 1949) Shochiku produced two more films based on Koito's novels before Otome no seiten. Producer of all three films as well as of the follow-up Niizuma no seiten (Sex encyclopedia of a newly-wed woman, 1950) was Ishida Seikichi.
The announcement of the magazine Heibon, which labelled itself "entertainment magazine for songs and films" (uta to eiga no goraku zasshi), makes it clear that the film adaptation of the novel Otome no seiten by Shochiku was decided from the start: "Start of the sensation novel chosen by Shochiku to be adapted to film". In fact, the novel was written on request of producer Ishida Seikichi, who wanted to make a film dealing with the issue of sex education. At first Koito resisted Ishida's persistent request, but finally she gave in and started reading the material he has collected for the novel. Ishida took Koito to a sexological study group in Asakusa and introduced her to the head of a clinic in Asakusa which specialised in the treatment of venereal diseases. The novel was advertised by Heibon as the "first Japanese novel dealing with the problem of sex" (wagakuni de hajimete kikaku sareta 'sei' no mondai shosetsu) and as a "great tragedy of a woman in tears caused by her lack of sexual knowledge" (sei no muchi yue ni naku onna no daihigeki). The sixth and final instalment of the novel was published in August 1949, the same month the magazine Shinario bungei published the script version Otome no seiten - kanzen naru seishun no tame ni (Sex encyclopedia of a maiden - For a perfect springtime of life) - the second part of the title again alluding to van de Velde's Kanzen naru kekkon.
Otome no seiten is a good example for Shochiku's new production line initiated by its first "production rebuilding plan" announced in April 1949 in order to counteract the studio's continuing slump. One step was the increase of literary adaptations (gensakumono) at the expense of original screenplays which Takamura Kiyoshi, head of the production department, considered one factor in the failure of Shochiku's films. In the case of Otome no seiten Shochiku tied up with Koito Nobu even before the novel was published. The film's success eventually led Shochiku to sign a contract with Koito to bind her exclusively to the studio. Another measure to strengthen Shochiku's production was an increased exchange between their studios in Kyoto and Ofuna. Several directors from the Ofuna studio were dispatched to Kyoto, among them Yoshimura Kozaburo (Shitto/Jealousy, Mori no Ishimatsu/Ishimatsu of the forest), Kinoshita Keisuke (Hakai/The Outcast, Yotsuya kaidan/Yotsuya ghost story, Yaburedaiko/Broken drum) and Nakamura Noboru (Eden no umi/Eden by the sea, Koibumi saiban/Love letter trial [after a novel by Koito Nobu]). The director of Otome no seiten, Oba Hideo, was also dispatched to Kyoto, and it was the first film he shot there after 1945 (he had made three films in Kyoto during the war). Oba was a reliable, but so far not particularly distinguished director who had made his debut in 1939 and had made more than two dozens films for Shochiku. His rise to fame came three years later, in 1953, with the Kimi no na wa (What is your name?) trilogy, one of Shochiku's biggest successes ever. A third step was a shift towards more popular fare, to comedy, music films, suspense films and other entertainment movies. This strategy proved successful. Whereas the box-office returns of Shochiku's more ambitious films of 1950 such as Yoshimura Kozaburo's Shunrai (Spring Thunder) and Kinoshita Keisuke's Kekkon yubiwa (Wedding ring) fell far behind expectations, their entertainment films such as Sasaki Yasushi's Omoide no borero (Bolero of Memory), Ichikawa Tetsuo's Horo no utahime (The wandering songstress) with Misora Hibari, and Mizuho Shunkai's Pekochan to Densuke (Pekochan and Densuke) became box-office hits and helped Shochiku to overcome its slump. One of Shochiku's most successful films of 1950, however, was Otome no seiten, released on March 19, 1950.
What was the film about? The policewoman Iwashita Tomoe calls on the teachers of a girl school, because one of their students, Ishihara Mieko, has been taken into protective custody. At the school Tomoe meets Tachibana Tetsuya, a young teacher whom she had met before at a radio discussion in which he had been taunted by other participants after deploring the decline of sexual morals. He is worried when he learns that Mieko has been found to be pregnant, but he opposes the decision of the school council to expel Mieko on the grounds of bad behaviour. Tetsuya lives at his former teacher's house. He had been in love with his teacher's daughter Chizuko, but after the war and his repatriation Tetsuya finds Chizuko completely changed. The once pure girl had turned into a rebellious demimondaine. The more Tetsuya tries to get away from Chizuko, the more she clings to him. Chizuko takes in Mieko, who had run away from home, and in order to annoy Tetsuya she declares that she will take care of the girl. Convinced that the lack of proper sex education was the reason for Mieko's blunder, Tetsuya and Tomoe visit Prof. Fukumoto of the Association for Sex Education to ask for his advice. With his support they try to introduce a sex education program at the school. When they learn that Chizuko has taken Mieko to a midwife to get an abortion, Tetsuya and Tomoe rush there and arrive just in time to rescue Mieko, who resolves to become a better person. Mieko helps Tetsuya, Tomoe and Prof. Fukumoto organize a lecture on sex education at the girls' school, but the lecture is disrupted by the good-for-nothing Kawaii who had seduced Mieko and got her pregnant. Tetsuya, trying to protect Mieko, is stabbed by Kawaii. He is taken to the hospital, but he has lost a lot of blood and needs a blood transfusion. Since the doctors consider Chizuko's blood impure they use Tomoe's blood instead. Chizuko finally gives up on Tetsuya, and Tomoe and Tetsuya get together. They decide to take care of Mieko and her child and live a simple but happy life.
Shochiku must have sensed the commercial potential of this film and rather aggressively advertised it with slogans such as "the most problematic feature film of this spring season!", "pregnant school girl in uniform!", "tragedy of a maiden knowing nothing about sex", "the dangers of sex play (momoiro yugi)" and "the marvellous film to the sex novel". To stress the "educational" character of the film it was released together with the sex education film Ai no dohyo (A Guide to Love) produced by Osaka Eigajin Shudan (see part 2).
The reactions to Otome no seiten were ambivalent. At the box-office the film was a big success. In fact, it was one of Shochiku's highest-grossing films of the year. The critics on the other hand were less enthusiastic. Some tried to acquire a taste for the educational message of the film. The doctor Oshima Masao, for instance, in a review in the Miyako Shinbun recommended the film to all teachers and educators in the country. As a doctor, however, who himself was involved in sex education he finds fault with some incorrect depictions (like with a diagram of the fertilization of an egg). He also objects to the old-fashioned vocabulary (mukashi no gakujitsugo) and stresses that additional sex education lectures would enhance the effect of the film. The majority of critics, however, were reluctant if not dismissive. In a review in Eiga Hyoron the film critic Ogi Masahiko jeered that for all the talk about "sex education" the film was a "totally unreliable sex encyclopedia" (do ni mo tayorinai seiten). For that it would need more than just the insertion of a brief and inadequate sequence from a sex education film. The film critic Futaba Juzaburo condemned the film as "detestable" (iyarashii) and "beyond good sense" (ryoshiki no han'i-gai). He even called the making of a film like that a "kind of criminal act" (isshu no hanzai koi). In a discussion in the magazine Eiga Geijutsu he branded the film a "phenomenon of hooch affliction" (kasutori-byo gensho) referring to the low-quality moonshine (kasutori) that was namesake of the multitude of bawdy and lewd magazines of the post-war era.
[On a side note, the discussion in the July 1950 edition of Eiga Geijutsu is a sham. All four participants - Futaba Juzaburo, Kazetani Itsu, Ukiya Kazuo and Horii Aruto (a pun on Hollywood) - are one and the same person, whose real name is Ogawa Kazuhiko. Among his many pennames was also Uda Nitto (=Whodunnit). The name Futaba was chosen out of deference to Futabatei Shimei, whose translations of Turgenev had deeply impressed the young Ogawa.]
To cash in on the success of Otome no seiten, Shochiku hastened to produce a follow-up, Niizuma no seiten (Sex encyclopedia of a newly-wed woman), again based on a novel by Koito Nobu serialized in the magazine Heibon from September 1949 to May 1950 and released on July 18, 1950. The staff of the film was identical except for the screenplay writer. Inomata Katsuhito was replaced by Mitsuhata Sekiro and Hashida Sugako at the beginning of her long and very successful career. The film was announced as "sister picture" (shimai-hen) of Otome no seiten and was accompanied by another short film of Osaka Eigajin Shudan. Whether this short, Naraku no hodo (Pavement to Hell), was a sex education film in the fashion of Ai no dohyo is not clear. The main film, in any case, though featuring seiten in its title, was less outspoken about sexual matters than its predecessor. For this reason Eiga nenkan (Film Yearbook) - perhaps following the classification of the Motion Picture Code of Ethics Committee (eiga rinri kitei kanri kitei), the Japanese censorship agency established in June 1949 - classified Niizuma no seiten, which revolves around two couples and their marriage problems, as a "melodrama" and not as a "sex education film" (seikyoiku eiga) like Otome no seiten.
There is another film by Shochiku, however, that Eiga nenkan lists as "sex education film": Kiken na nenrei (Dangerous Age), released on April 2, 1950. This film is not to be confused with the film of the same title produced by Nikkatsu in 1957 directed by Horiike Kiyoshi and based on Ishizaka Yojiro's bestselling novel of the same title. It tells the story of three girls on the verge of adulthood. While two of them engage in "sex play" (momoiro yugi), the third, a Christian, tries hard to convert a thug to a decent life. Capitalizing on the success of Otome no seiten the previous month, the film was advertised by Shochiku as "sister picture" of Otome no seiten and was sold with similar slogans such as "Schoolgirls playing with fire" (jogakusei no hiasobi) and "Love game of a dreadful adolescence" (osorubeki shishunki no hiasobi). Concerning their planning, however, the two films had little in common. Kiken na nenrei was produced by Kogura Takeshi and made by Shochiku's Ofuna studio and not its Kyoto studio. Originally Kinoshita Keisuke was scheduled to direct the film, but eventually the direction was assigned to Hara Kenkichi, a former assistant director of Ozu Yasujiro who had been directing films for Shochiku since 1937. The screenplay was written by Shindo Kaneto. It was one of the last screenplays Shindo wrote for Shochiku before leaving the studio in March 1950 together with director Yoshimura Kozaburo after their project Nikutai no seiso (Garment of the flesh) had been rejected by the studio bosses. The following year they realized the film with Daiei under the title Itsuwareru seiso (Clothes of deception). By leaving Shochiku of his own volition, Shindo avoided being fired by the studio during the red purge that began shortly afterwards.
Shochiku was not alone in turning towards more salacious topics in their films. In the media the term seiten eiga came to denominate not only the "sex education" films produced by Shochiku, but it was used in a more general sense for films dealing with sexuality and eroticism in a more explicit way than the Japanese audience was used to so far. In a review of the films of 1950 in the film journal Kinema Junpo, a highbrow round of nine leading film critics single out the "seiten eiga" as "the most prominent trend of the year in Japanese cinema" (kotoshi no ichiban okina keiko). In another review, Kinema Junpo in its New Year 1951 edition identifies "immoral films" (fudotokuteki eiga) as one of four major trends (the others being the resurge of jidaigeki films, anti-war films and American Western movies). The "immoral films" referred to the same group of films, which were also labelled "bed films" (nedoko eiga), "flesh films" (nikutai eiga), "lust films" (shunjo eiga), "erotic films" (kanno eiga), "pulp films" (getemono eiga) or "seiten eiga". Beside the above mentioned Shochiku films these included Nikutai no hakusho (White paper of the flesh; Shineigasha = Toei), Aru fujinka-i no kokuhaku (Confession of a gynaecologist; Daiei), Zoku furyo shojo (Delinquent girls Part 2; Toyoko Eiga), Jogakuseigun (A group of schoolgirls; Toyoko Eiga), Josei tai dansei (Women vs. Men; Oizumi Eiga = Toei), Yuki fujin ezu (Portrait of Madame Yuki; Takimura Production = Shintoho), Shiroi yaju (White Beast; Toho), Dotei (Male virgin; Shochiku) as well as Tokyo juya (Tokyo nights).
Among these the most prominent and most severely criticised film was Mizoguchi Kenji's Yuki fujin ezu. Based on Funahashi Seiichi's bestselling novel belonging to the category of "kanno shosetsu" (novels about sexuality), the film focuses on the erotic overtones of an affair of a former aristocratic woman and depicts the social and moral changes in post-war Japan. Criticized for its sexual frankness, the film is a good example for the changing attitudes of Japanese cinema towards sexual or erotic topics, but it is hardly of interest for our purpose, which is the investigation of sex education in Japanese films. The same can be said about Hara Kenkichi's Dotei and Saburi Shin's directorial debut Josei tai dansei. It is interesting, however, that in all three films the heroine is played by the same actress, Kogure Michiyo.
Of an altogether different kind was the film Tokyo juya, directed by Numanami Isao. It was the first film produced by Shueisha, a film developing laboratory founded by Yoshida Eisuke, the former head of the production department of Kokusai Eiga. In July 1950 Yoshida abandoned film development and switched to film production. Although Tokyo juya credits veterans such as Kamiyama Sojin, Mayama Kumiko and Tatematsu Akira it was basically a tableau of striptease scenes typical for the strip film genre that began emerging at that time. The film was distributed by Tokyo Eiga Haikyu, the distribution company established in autumn 1949 by Tokyu Corporation as distributor for the films made by Toyoko Eiga and Oizumi Studio. In 1951 all three companies were merged into Toei (which embodied the merger in its triangle logo). Tokyo juya was released in a triple bill together with two other films, Sei to kofuku (Sex and Happiness) and Sutorippu Tokyo (Tokyo Striptease). The former was a basukon eiga (see part 2) produced by Riken Eiga, directed by Iwahori Kikuo and first released in November 1949 (incidentally "sei to kofuku" was also the catch copy of Saburi Shin's Josei tai dansei). The latter was a striptease film directed by otani Toshio and produced by Ginsei Production starring striptease star Hirose Motomi. otani had started his career in 1924 as an actor under the name Mizutani Toshio. In 1932 he joined Nikkatsu and worked as a director first in their Uzumasa Studio, later in their new Tamagawa Studio. In 1936 he changed to PCL and eventually to Toho before joining the Manchurian Film Cooperative Manei. After the war he had difficulties to resume his career and ended up directing bawdy comedies and strip flicks like Tokkan hadaka tengoku (Rush Nude Paradise) and Sutorippu Tokyo.
Of more interest for our purposes is Shimura Toshio's Nikutai no hakusho (White paper of the Flesh). It was the first film by Shin'eigasha, a production company founded in May 1950 by Shino Katsuzo, the former vice-director and head of the planning department of the Oizumi Studio. He quit the studio after internal troubles and set up his own production company located within the Oizumi Studio compound. Director Shimura Toshio originally came from Toho (after the second Toho strike he changed to Shintoho), and so did Yamamoto Kajiro who wrote the screenplay together with Takayanagi Haruo. The screenplay was based on Ibuki Chikashi's Nikutai no hakusho - Yoshiwara byoin kiroku (White paper of the Flesh - Yoshiwara Hospital Report), documenting life in the Yoshiwara red light district. Ibuki was the head of the Yoshiwara Hospital (most likely the hospital Koito Nobu visited when doing research for her novel Otome no seiten) and wrote several studies on the situation of the prostitutes in Yoshiwara. In 1953 the publisher Bungei Shuppan published his book Baishunfu no seiseikatsu (The Sex Life of Prostitutes) as the second volume of their series Nihon ni okeru sei no chosa hokoku daishu (Grand Collection of sex survey reports in Japan). The first volume was Okada Toraji's Shishunki no seiishiki (Sexual consciousness of adolescence). From his writings Ibuki's advocacy of sex education and his position as social educator if not sex educator becomes evident. How much of this is reflected in Shimura's Nikutai no hakusho is debatable. A Naigai Times report about the filming, which took place on location at the Yoshiwara Hospital and within Yoshiwara, describe the film as "semi-documentary", but contemporary reviews objected to the film's "sensationalism" and classified it as "panpan eiga" (hooker film), a "genre" very much in fashion at the time.
Mori Kazuo's Daiei film Aru fujinka-i no kokuhaku (Confession of a gynaecologist), written by Yoda Yoshikata and produced by Minoura Jingo (who at the same time worked with Kurosawa Akira on Rashomon), also revolved around a gynaecologist and the problem of unwanted pregnancy, abortion and sex. "Sei to ninshin no mondai" (The problem of Sex and Pregnancy) was also the film's slogan. Aru fujinka-i no kokuhaku was released together with the two-reel short Datai (Abortion), an educational film about the Eugenic Protection Law (yusei hogoho) which was passed in July 1948 regulating abortion.
A third "doctor film" should be mentioned, Joi no shinsatsushitsu (Examination room of a female doctor), produced by Takimura Production and directed by Yoshimura Ren, a Nikkatsu/Daiei director on a brief break-away from his studio. Takimura Production was established in June 1949 by former Toho producer Takimura Kazuo who had left Toho during the second Toho strike. Takimura Production also produced Mizoguchi's Yuki fujin ezu mentioned above. I mention Joi no shinsatsushitsu not because of Hara Setsuko and Uehara Ken who play the lead roles in this love story, but because of Tsuneyasu Tazuko who wrote the original story on which the film is based. Her book of the same title was published in December 1948 by Kokumin kyoikusha. Tsuneyasu, a doctor by profession and a prolific writer, authored several books which could be classified as "sex education books" or "sex advisories" such as Kekkon ni wa mada hayai - Joi no sodanshitsu (Too young for marriage - Consultation room of a female doctor; Anka shobo, 1955) and Shishunki no seiten - Kokosei to joi no taiwa (Sex encyclopedia of puberty - Conversation between high school pupils and a female doctor; Hobunsha 1955).
Several of her books were used for film adaptations such as Hagiyama Teruo's Jogakusei no techo - Otome no mezame (Awakening of a maiden; Shochiku 1953) and Nakaki Shigeo's Judai no himitsu (Teenager Secrets; Daiei, 1954) - both, by the way, late examples of the second seiten eiga boom that will be discussed in part 4 of the series - or Mesu o motsu shojo (Virgin holding a knife; Toho, 1951). The latter was based on Tsuneyasu's book Joshi igakusei (Female medical student) published in 1949. The film starred Sugi Yoko, who since her debut in the Toho smash hit Aoi sanmyaku (Blue mountains, 1949) was one of Japan's leading young actresses, and Izu Hajime. On a side note, in 1964 actor Izu Hajime directed a film with the title Onna (Woman) starring Hoshi Michiko (who had started her career with the above mentioned Nikutai no hakusho). The film was produced by Kokuei and is an early example of the pink eiga genre that began to gain ground at that time (one of the founders and veterans of the pink eiga genre, by the way, was the producer of Mesu o motsu shojo, Motogi Sojiro). Mesu o motsu shojo was directed by Oda Motoyoshi, a reliable, but not particularly distinguished director. Some critics consider two of his films directed in 1950, Jogakuseigun (A group of schoolgirls) and Zoku furyo shojo (Delinquent girls Part 2), as "seiten eiga" in a more general sense. Futaba Juzaburo for instance labelled Jogakuseigun as "seiten eiga no hanpamono" (remnant seiten film). Zoku furyo shojo was, as the title suggests, a sequel. It followed Naruse Mikio's Furyo shojo (Delinquent girls) which like Jogakuseigun was based on a novel by "nikutai-ha" writer Tamura Taijiro, a highly successful author typical for Japan's post-war literature. More than a dozen of his books were made into films, some of them several times like his most famous novel Nikutai no mon (Gate of flesh). In 1966 Tamura himself made a brief foray into film when he directed one episode of the omnibus film Nihon o shikaru - shatta O (Scolding Japan - Shutter O). Furyo shojo tells the story of two former classmates, Tamie and Eiko, one of whom leads a decent life while the other degenerates. The film was produced by Toyoko Eiga and released by Shochiku in March 1949. During the third Toho strike Naruse followed Kurosawa Akira and joined Eiga Geijutsu Kyokai, the production company set up by Yamamoto Kajiro and producer Motogi Sojiro who also produced Furyo shojo. The film got only mediocre reviews and Naruse himself did not esteem the film very much, but at the end of his life cinematographer Tamai Masao remembered the film as a "hidden masterpiece" (kakureta kasaku), a judgement difficult to verify, because Furyo shojo is Naruse's only post-war film which has been lost. Naruse made Furyo shojo after he began working on Shiroi yaju (White beast), but the third Toho strike got under way during the shooting and Naruse had to wait two years until he could finish this film about a group of prostitutes in a rehabilitation facility struggling with social prejudices, unwanted pregnancies and venereal diseases. Naruse had to cope not only with the forced stop of the shooting, but also with the loss of his lead actress Miura Mitsuko, who in the meantime had married an officer of the occupation forces and had followed him to the United States. Naruse had to rewrite the script, add additional characters to cover up missing scenes with Miura and straighten out the differences of a quickly changing time.
Another film by Naruse needs to be mentioned here, because in a way it heralded the seiten films and because sex education plays an important role in it. The film is Haru no mezame (Spring Awakening), Naruse's third post-war film. The title, of course, refers to Frank Wedekind's famous play Frühlingserwachen, which enjoyed great popularity in Japan before the war (three translations by Shibata Sakuji, Nogami Toyoichiro and Kando Takanori respectively were published in 1925 alone, a fourth by Kawahara Mankichi followed in 1927). Conceived in 1946, the film had to wait for a year, because of the first Toho strike and other difficulties. The film revolves around Kumiko, a high school third grader played by Kuga Yoshiko in her second film. During a visit at her classmate Hanae's home she meets Hanae's elder brother Koji for whom she begins to develop tender feelings. But her world is turned upside down when she learns that her classmate Akiko is pregnant and that Tomie, her family's maid, got fired after her parents had found out that Tomie had a boyfriend; they had been afraid Tomie might set her a bad example. Koji also struggles with his feelings for Kumiko, but finds comfort with his liberal and understanding father, a doctor, who gives him a book about sex education and invites him to come to him whenever he has a question. Kumiko on the other hand has no one to turn to and shows signs of distress. When Koji's father calls on the girl to examine her he lectures her parents that it is the duty of parents to (sexually) educate their children and to give them encouragement during their adolescence when they are particularly vulnerable emotionally. The film ends on a positive note: the young people decide not to rush things but see how their feelings for each other develop. In a prominent scene Koji's father, played by Shimura Takashi, gives his son a book titled Seikagaku (Sexual science). This title of the prop book is clearly legible, whereas the author's name is indecipherable. The book perhaps points to Ota Takeo's Seikagaku published in 1937 by Mikasa Shobo as vol. 26 of its "Yuibutsuron zenshu" (Materialism treatise) series. [Iwasaki Akira's Eigaron (On film) was also published in this series]. In April 1948, six months after the release of Haru no mezeme, Mikasa Shobo published a new edition of the book. By that time the author had changed his first name to Tenrei.
One last film must be mentioned and this is Wakabito e no hanamuke (Farewell present to young people), made after a script written by Azumi Yoshihito, the director of the Heian Hospital in Kyoto specializing in venereal diseases. I mention this typical sex education film because on March 22, 1950, three days after the opening of Otome no seiten, an article in the Miyako Shinbun labels the film project as "wakabito no seiten" (sex encyclopedia for young people).
In conclusion one can say that the explicit treatment of sex education made its entrance into Japanese mainstream cinema as early as 1947 in Naruse's Haru no mezame. The commercial success of Otome no seiten in spring 1950 resulted in a couple of follow-ups by the languishing studio Shochiku and established the term "seiten eiga" in the media where it was soon corrupted and used to denote not only films related to sex education in particular, but films of a more or less explicit sexual or erotic nature in general. The heterogeneity of the films, however, doesn't allow us to speak of a seiten eiga boom. In fact, the films made in 1950 can be seen as just a prelude for the real seiten eiga boom that hit Japanese cinemas two years later. This second and larger group of seiten eiga films, which will be discussed in part 4 of the series, was triggered by the success of the Italian film Domani è troppo tardi (Tomorrow is too late, 1950), whose title sounded like a warning in the ears of the Japanese film studios' executives.
Über den Autor
Mag. Dr. Roland Domenig ist Universitätslektor am Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften / Japanologie der Universität Wien. Seine Forschungsschwerpunkte sind Filmgeschichte, Populärkultur und Freizeitforschung.
- Kaeriyama Norimasa: Eiga no seiteki miwaku. Tokyo: Bunkyusha shobo 1928.
- Ogura Koichiro: Sekai eiga fuzoku-shi. Tokyo: Fuzoku shiryo kankokai 1931.
- Saito Hikaru: "Seiyoku no bunkateki hyojunka", Kyoto Seika daigaku kiyo 6 (1994), 161-176.