Japanese court rules artist's 'vagina' kayak is legal, sharing is not

Vagina-kayak gets Japanese artist convicted
Vagina-kayak gets Japanese artist convicted

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Vagina-kayak gets Japanese artist convicted 01:00

Story highlights

  • Japanese artist fined after sharing 3D instructions to print vagina kayaks
  • Megumi Igarashi "disappointed" that her "concept hasn't been understood by the judge"

Tokyo (CNN)To some, it was just an oddly shaped kayak. To others, it was a sexual obscenity worthy of legal action.

On Tuesday, a Japanese court ruled a floating replica of an artist's vagina was in fact "pop art."
    However, it also ruled that 3D data enabling supporters to create their own oversized vagina was not.
    Confused? So is artist Megumi Igarashi.
    "Genitals are not obscene at least for lots of woman including myself so I think it doesn't make sense," she told CNN.
    Conceptional artist Megumi Igarashi raised money through crowd-funding to build her kayak.
    Igarashi, a conceptional artist who goes by the by the pseudonym Rokudenashiko (which means "good-for-nothing kid"), created controversy in 2014 by her plans to create a kayak in the shape of her vagina.
    She launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise money to build it, then emailed her supporters with the 3D data so they could make their own.
    Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi shows small mascots shaped to represent a vagina  on April 15, 2015.
    The court cleared Igarashi of charges of obscenity over her bright yellow kayak, but fined her 400,000 yen ($3,670), for electronically providing data to allow people to print their own.
    After the ruling, Igarashi defended her work and said that, technically, 3D data was not real so shouldn't be categorized as obscene.
    "I think it is not 'sexual stimulus' like pornography that we see in many aspects in Japan," she said.
    Japan has a flourishing porn industry and images of sex are not hard to find, particularly in the form of explicit anime or manga. However, distributing uncensored images of real genitalia is a crime under the country's obscenity laws.
    "It is strange that pornography which shows sex scenes (where genitals are blurred) is not prosecuted, and my work is charged."
    Igarashi's kayak vagina was one of a series of works by the artist inspired by the female anatomy, from smartphone cases to a giant kawaii mascot. She created miniature dioramas including one of workers toiling away in a vagina-shaped crevice at Fukushima's damaged nuclear plant.
    Of her kayak, Igarashi said, "I work to reverse the male notion that female sex can only be understood through the prism of obscenity. I'm disappointed this concept hasn't been understood by the judge."