Japanese ‘Vagina Kayak’ Artist Faces Up to Two Years in Prison

Megumi Igarashi and her vagina-shaped kayak. Courtesy the artist and Gankargarou.

Megumi Igarashi and her vagina-shaped kayak. Courtesy the artist and Gankargarou.

Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi, who operates under the artistic moniker Rokude Nashiko (translation: “reprobate child”), was indicted last week on charges that she distributed “obscene” data in the form of a computer code that would allow other people to use a 3D printer to make their own copy of a kayak based on her vagina.

Igarashi has been arrested twice this year for the project—the first time in July for attempting to raise funds online to construct the kayak, and the second time in December for allegedly distributing the code to numerous people. In the aftermath of her first arrest, she was freed from prison after an online petition that drew more than 21,000 signatures.

Japanese obscenity laws forbid the depiction of genitalia, which instead must appear censored or pixelated in film and photography. Despite this, Japan has a booming pornography industry, a strange dichotomy that Igarashi’s artwork and subsequent legal troubles have highlighted on the world stage.

According to NPR, the artist will plead not guilty to the charges, but if convicted could face up to two years behind bars and a fine equivalent to $20,755.

“I cannot agree with the police’s decision to label the data as obscene,” Igarashi said in a July press conference. “To me, my vagina is like my arms and legs. It’s nothing obscene.”

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