Behind the Pink Curtain

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Steamy, subversive, exotic and bizarre!

Behind the Pink Curtain takes the reader on a wild joy ride deep into the hinterlands of Japanese culture, society and radical politics by way of the weird and wonderful world of the Pink Film and Roman Porno genres.

Behind the Pink Curtain focuses on the art and industry of one of the most notorious sectors of Japanese filmmaking, the erotic Pink Film, or pinku eiga genre, and the closely related Roman Porno films produced by Nikkatsu studios from 1971 to 1988. A phenomenon distinct from the cheaply-produced hardcore Adult Video (AV) market, from the early '60s onwards major Japanese film studios and independent producers alike have kept up a conveyor belt level of output of pornographic features intended purely for cinema release. Still today, just short of 100 such titles are shot on 35mm every year intended for screening in a specialist network of adult cinema across the nation. In recent years, many have found themselves released on DVD in the West or screened at international film festivals, while many of Japan's most noted filmmakers today have cut their teeth in this industry.

Just how close are the links between the arthouse and the grindhouse in Japan? Read about the ins and outs of Japanese censorship from the wartime onwards, and how topless deep sea diving girls came to woo local audiences in the '50s. Learn how a TV nature documentary maker ended up helming nude female Tarzan movies, and how '60s mavericks Kôji Wakamatsu and Masao Adachi met up with John and Yoko at Cannes while on the way to the Golan Heights to make a film about Palestinian revolutionaries. How Deep Throat's Harry Reems wound up in Tokyo starring in a zany sex comedy about a penis transplant gone awry, and how one of Japan's most famous literary figures ended up the subject of the country's first gay porno movie. How one of Nikkatsu's leading directors went it alone to make a film about powerboat racing and ended up in the bad books of the yakuza, and how the anti-Bush sex farce Horny Home Tutor: Teacher's Love Juice came to be re-titled as The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai and became one of the most talked-about Japanese films of recent years, playing at over twenty international film festivals.

Based on extensive interviews with many of the leading figures in the field, Behind the Pink Curtain is a colourful and exhaustive trawl through Japan's most vibrant and prolific filmmaking sector.


Chapter 1:
The Japanese Sex Film: Art or Industry?

An introduction to the world of pinku eiga, some facts, some definitions and a brief historical overview, looking at the state of the modern distribution network and who actually watches these films.

Chapter 2:
Sex, Censorship and Other Positions of Power: New Ways of Looking

Is the pink film art or pornography? What is pornography anyway, and does it mean the same in Japan as over here? An introduction to Japan's obscenity laws and censorship history, within the context of the international development of erotic cinema.

Chapter 3:
Ama Glamour and the Rise of the Flesh Actress

An overview of the output of Shintoho in the 50s, who introduced nudity to Japanese screens with films such as those in the Ama, or Girl Diver movies such as Girl Divers at Spook Mansion and Revenge of the Pearl Queen.

Chapter 4:
The Birth of the Eroduction

The beginnings of the pink genre in 1962 with Satoru Kobayashi's Flesh Market and Koji Seki's legendary female Tarzan films and the formation of Kokuei, Okura Productions and the new Shintoho.

Chapter 5:
Pioneers of the Pink Film

Introducing the early trailblazers of the pink film world and their work - Kan Mukai, Koji Seki, Satoru Kobayashi, Mamoru Watanabe and Shinya Yamamoto.

Chapter 6:
Pinkos in Pink

Pink gets political. This chapter investigates how the pink film came to echo the radicalism of ultra-leftist groups on the streets of Tokyo, and details the political landscape of the era.

Chapter 7:
Emerging from the Underground: Wakamatsu Pro

We investigate the major role played by Koji Wakamatsu and his coterie in bringing avant-garde pop culture, porn and politics to a wider market.

Chapter 8:
Eiga / Kakumei: The Story of Masao Adachi

A survey of the radical films of Wakamatsu's partner-in-crime Masao Adachi.

Chapter 9:
The Golden Dawn of the New Porn: Nikkatsu's Roman Porno

The sex film goes mass market in Japan, with the birth of Nikkatsu's Roman Porno line in 1971.

Chapter 10:
Roman Porno: The Films, Their Makers and Their Stars

A closer look at some of Nikkatsu's top Roman Porno directors and their films.

Chapter 11:
Eros International

International co-productions and international distribution - was the pink film ever a purely Japanese phenomenon?

Chapter 12:
I Am Curious (Pink) - An Industry in Flux

The pink film underwent significant changes in the 70s, with the arrival of Roman Porno, and yet its output remained as strong as ever. A look at the major production companies of the decade, their staff and their films.

Chapter 13:
The Decade of Excess

Japanese sex films became renowned for their excessive depictions of violence, rape and sadomasochism, but was it always this way, or was this a purely 80s development, and if so, why?

Chapter 14:
The Four Devils and the Pink Nouvelle Vague

The renaissance of the pink film in the early 90s, following the death of Roman Porno and the arrival of Adult Video.

Chapter 15:
The Devils Themselves....

An overview of the films of the directors known as the Four Devils: Kazuhiro Sano, Hisayasu Sato, Toshiki Sato and Takahisa Zeze.

Chapter 16:
Girls and Boys Come Out to Play

The modern-day audience for the pink film is more diverse than one might expect. This chapter looks at female viewers, female directors and the gay sub-sector of the pink film genre.

Chapter 17:
21st Century Girl and the Seven Lucky Gods

The latest new wave of pink directors known as the Seven Lucky Gods, including Mitsuru Meike, Shinji Imaoka and Yuji Tajiri have captured the attention of a new generation of audiences and have had their works screened widely abroad. But are they a continuation of or a reaction against their predecessors the Four Devils?

Chapter 18:
Final Curtain?

In the era of DVD and the internet, is there still a market for the theatrical sex films, and where might the industry be heading in the future?

- List of Japanese titles, cast and credits and DVD availability.
- Bibliography.

About the Author

Jasper Sharp is the co-editor of the specialist Japanese film website Midnight Eye ( and has curated for London's Raindance Film Festival and acted as an advisor for the Japan Foundation UK's annual touring season since 2005. His critically-acclaimed book The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film, joint-written with Tom Mes, was published by Stone Bridge Press in 2003. His writing has appeared in numerous countries, including the USA, UK, France, Germany, Russia, Hong Kong and Holland. He contributes liner notes and audio commentaries to DVD releases of Japanese films worldwide, and has written chapters for several anthology collections including 24 Frames: Japan and Korea (ed. Justin Bowyer), Film Out of Bounds: Essays and Interviews on Non-Mainstream Cinema Worldwide (ed. Matthew Edwards), Tokyo: Art and Culture (ed. Ian Luna) and Dictionnaire mondial des images (ed. Laurence Gervereau).

Technical Details

Size: 254mm x 192mm

Binding: Paperback

Extent: 416 pages, heavily illustrated throughout in colour & b/w

ISBN: 978-1-903254-54-7

Publication Date: October 2008

Market: Cinema / Erotica / Japan

Weight: 1405g

Edition: First Edition

Cover Price: £19.99 (UK) / $34.95 (US)

Product CodeFAB094
ManufacturerFAB Press

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