Q : Can you introduce yourself ?
A : I am a feminist, a cartoonist, and an artist. My art name is Rokudenashiko. I create arts using my Manko( Japanese slang for ‘Vagina’) as a motif. I made some molds in the shape of my Manko and decorated them in a sweet and glittering way. I also put some diorama dolls on them. I made a kayak measuring about 2 meters based on a 3D scan of my Manko.
Recently, I have been 3d modeling and making toys using my 3D Manko data.
Q : Why are you interested in the vagina?
A : At first I had been drawing cartoons about the story of my sexual experiences. One day, I noticed that there are many cartoonists who draw their sexual experiences but no woman in Japan who drew the topic of their sexual organs(Manko). So I decided to be the first Manko cartoonist. Though I found some feminist artworks using Manko as a motif, they looked sad, gloomy, and severe because they seemed to want to convey the idea that being woman is painful.
Q : What is the political message?
A : It was just an idea and did not have any political massage at that time. So I call myself ‘ Rokudenashiko’ ( Rokudenashi means ‘talk nonsense’ or ‘ completely useless person’).
Q : Why is it important?
A : I felt very weird when I got huge online slander by the people who saw the photos of my Manko art decorated glitteringly or with diorama dolls. Those art works looked very funny, but many people thought them obscene because they were made from my Manko. They did not properly consider the meaning of my work but were scared and angry with the concept of Manko. Then I suddenly noticed that people, especially women, were strictly culturally prohibited from saying ‘ Manko’ in public despite there being no reason or legal penalty in Japan. However, If women can not say the name of our sexual organs, it is difficult for us to talk about our sex problems, venereal disease, birth control, asking their partners to wear a condom etc…. It is ridiculous!!!
Q : Why do we celebrate penis and not vagina in Japan?
A : In ancient Japan people respected the human body, sex and sexual organs because these symbolized the birth of life, harvest, and fertility. Even today, there is a famous festival in which people carry a big penis object which symbolized harvest on their shoulder in Kawasaki. However, so- called obscenity has been severely cracked down upon the Meiji period during which the government has opened the country to the world and adapted to Western culture influenced by Christianity, think that sexual desire, obscenity, pornography, and so on are bad and shameful in general. Not only sexual violence is forbidden, but also showing the naked body and sexual organs in public. And among those people consider the vagina to be the most obscene.
Q ; Why is female sex considered obscene?
A : In the histories of almost all countries, men have dominated women. Women did not have the rights of initiative and freedom.
Q : Are Japanese women ashamed of their sexuality ? Why?
A : Most Japanese women have been brainwashed by their parents since they were children to think that their body, especially their vagina, is obscene. Boys are allowed to talk about the penis easily, even in public, but girls are not allowed. Parents forbid their daughter to talk about and touch her vagina without giving reason. I think it leads women to think that our sexual organs are shameful and dirty.
Q : Why isn’t your art appreciated?
A : Because my art uses the vagina as a motif, people who are prejudiced against sexual expression may dislike and be offended by my art even if they are art critics or professors. Moreover, some feminists and sociologists hate my art because the images are funny and laughable, not authoritative at all. They think that feminism art should convey the idea that being a woman is painful.
Q : Why have you been arrested?
A : I started a crowdfunding campaign when I made a kayak measuring about 2 meters based on a 3D scan of my Manko. Then I sent my 3D Manko data via online storage services to the patrons as a reward( for funding me). It came to the police’s attention and I was arrested twice for obscenity in 2014. The first time I was released from jail 7days later. I drew a cartoon about my experience of being arrested and in my illustrations and story I teased the police so they caught me again. Then I was prosecuted on the charge of obscenity for making my Manko- decorated arts and sending my 3D Manko data online. The trial lasted several years, and finally in the Supreme Court in July 2021 I was found not guilty for my decorated art – it was judged not obscene – but guilty of sending obscene data. I had to pay a fine of four hundred thousand yen ( 3700 US dollars ).
Q : How did you feel?
A : I got angry and started to fight against the police in earnest because of how ridiculous it was that they arrested me. I asserted the rights of FREE MANKO with all my energy. It was tough for me to be robbed of my freedom for 30 day’s detention. And Why should I be found and have to pay a fine? However, the news of my case spread around the world, and a wonderful musician who lives in Dublin became interested in my story. He became my husband and we were blessed with a lovely son. So now I appreciate the Japanese police who have been like an online dating web site for us and made us happy!