1. What is AV?
2. AV Production
3. AV Censorship
4. Behind the censorship
5. Why is Japanese adult video censored?
6. Why is Girl's profile always included blood group?
7. AV girls in American or European porn's production
8. Japan nude models
9. AV actresses recruitment

1. What is AV?
"AV" is short for Adult Video. It's also often referred to JAV or Japanese Adult Video. The adult video industry in Japan is huge, releasing hundreds of new titles every month. It also covers many genres some of which you don't see much of in the West. These include amateur, bondage, rape, schoolgirl, facial cum shots (bukkake), scatology (pee & poop), and even older women videos, called "madam."

2. AV Production
Companies that produce and sell adult video in Japan can be classified into three groups: Mainstream, Independent and Underground.

Mainstream AV are the mostly widely available in Japan both in retail and rental stores. They are also the first to feature the most popular female stars, the girls you see in the magazines.

Kuki is by far the largest conglomerate of AV producers in Japan. Over time, they have built up affiliations with 8 production houses. Kuki, Atlas 21, Cosmos, Alice Japan, MAX-A, Big Morkal, Sexia and Gorilla. Although they do have some amateur series and the occasional bondage or rape-themed release, most of their bread and butter is presenting the freshest starlets in their first video releases.

HRC (Human Relation and Confidence) is a smaller AV production group consisting of the Cher, Rouge and Zoom labels. They still get the cute girls but they only release a fraction of titles as compared to Kuki.

Kasakura is a fairly prolific AV production firm whose videos range from pretty girl to amateur, madam, rape and bondage.

HMP (Houya Media Produce) is yet another group of AV makers in the Mainstream category. If you come across videos labels with names like Samm, Tiffany, Miss Christine, For You, Q, Jamm, Cream, 10, Video Bank or Sex 9, it came from HMP. Again, a little amateur thrown into the mix but predominantly straight sex, AV actress titles.

Cinemagic produces bondage and S&M. Occasionally you will see an actress in one of these videos who you recognize from a more milder video genre (e.g. Sanae Asoh, Nao Hirosue and Maria Yumeno), but this is the exception rather than the rule.

Marx Brothers is a fairly new mainstream AV firm. They have three labels: Princess, Super Burroughs and Boda. Princess is all AV Idol while the other two run the gamut from amateur to costume play to big boob videos.

Independent video companies differ from the mainstream groups in that they don't subject their videos to the censorship standards of the Eirin, a non-governmental organization made up of 23 movie studios. This has two consequences. Independent videos generally contain less censorship but since the Eirin also controls the video rental market, the indie titles are not widely available for rental by consumers but only through retail sales. In addition, many indie studios shoot for the fringe market genres so you're more likely to find your more adventuresome fetish subjects within this group.

Soft On Demand is definitely the leader among independent AV filmmakers. They often get former mainstream video starlets into their videos (Bunko Kanazawa, Ryo Hitomi, Mao Misaki) and also have an exclusive contract with a starlet of their own: Kurumi Morishita. SOD videos cover a very wide range of kinky stuff like rape, bondage, sperm and even taboo subjects like lesbian and anal sex.

Momotaro wins the battle for having the least censorship of any large independent AV producer because they use a special digital mosaic mask. Also, they mercifully tend to avoid producing videos that revolve around plots and complex story structure. Momotaro has a cadre of AV stars that seem to pop up every once in a while (like Ruri Ikenouchi and Nana Housho) but they tend to go with new talent most of the time. They have long running series focusing on fudols, kogals and amateurs, but the most popular by far is the Bejean series.

Moodyz (formerly Mr. President) works very hard on getting well known AV stars in their videos. A lot of their titles revolve around costume play, but they also delve into amateur, light rape and bondage themes.

Waap videos are predominantly AV idol videos. They produce the excellent Dream Shower series which is part bukkake and part gang bang.

Audaz features AV idols along with amateur titles in its catalog. Their Face series is one of their most well known.

Wanz Factory is one of the newest indie companies and mostly produces videos starring AV idols. They also feature big boob compilations.

NOTE: There are too many independent AV firms to be listed here.


3. AV Censorship
All legally available AV is censored (pixelized mosaic mask) in Japan. There is, of course another category of AV production: the Underground. Given that the distribution of such uncensored material is illegal you won't find them in any of the regular video stores in Japan. However, since the Japanese police are typically lax in enforcing laws pertaining to illicit sex, you can find some in and outside of Japan with some effort. However, the general consensus seems to be that these uncensored (or "ura") videos are inferior to the legal stuff both in terms of the girls and the production value. Most of the women in these videos are veterans of the sex trade and therefore not up to the level of a bankable AV actresses.

However, there is yet another category of uncensored AV, best describe as being smuggled out of the production cycle before mosaic censorship could be applied. These are a handful of these gems starring some very popular AV stars like Ai Ijima, Hitomi Yuki, Rui Sakuragi and Hitomi Shiraishi.

4. Behind the censorship
Most AV girls fake having intercourse (titles that are release before 2003). The mosaic censorship allows for enough ambiguity from the viewer's perspective that it doesn't matter whether the sex is real. A note of interest – titles that are release after 2003 are presented with the "real thing" using smaller pixel mosaic or thin mosaic (digital moasic) except those from KUKI and SOD which still utilitize large pixel mosaic.

Petting - Yes
Cunnilingus - Yes but not always
Fingering - Sometimes
Fellatio - Yes but often with a condom
Intercourse - Usually not
Anal - Almost always not
Cum shot - Sometimes

You'd be surprised how easy it is to fake a jizz explosion. On the other hand, almost all amateur videos are real. Also, most indie AV directors insist on real sex.

2005 NOTE: Most video release after end 2003 is wtih real action - all sexual acts. Also, new production houses such as "S1" and "REAL" utilitize "GIRI GIRI MOSAIC" - thin small pixel mosaic.


5. Why is Japanese adult video censored?
This is probably the most perplexing question about AV and the most frustrating since it's hard to pin down exactly what the roots of censorship of erotic materials in Japan are. There are many parts of the world which exercise much greater control on the display of adult media (India, the Middle East and Mainland China).

Japan's present day stance against the display of nudity (particularly genitalia) seems to be in stark contrast to it's artistic tradition. Whereas India had its Kama Sutra, Japan has it erotic shunga or woodblock prints which graphically displayed intercourse with the participants contorted into virtually spine-bending positions. Indeed both the ancient Japanese literary and dramatic arts were no strangers to exploring the sexual realms both in traditional and perverse forms.

One might expect that a country so steeped in religious tradition as Japan to have a moral issue with sexual promiscuity. However, the Buddhist and Shinto faiths lack the exhortations against lust and adultery that are so common in Christianity. In fact, fertility and sex are more apt to be thought of as natural and even celebrated rather than denounced as is so often the case in the puritanical West. Take for example the annual Jibeta festival which is a Shinto celebration of fertility in which statues and carved wooden representations (some of them huge) of both the male and female genitals play a prominent and public role.

It's also interesting to note that the sight of women's breasts are not considered to be a big deal as in the United States. The Japanese response is much like that of Europeans. Bare-chested women are a common sight on television as well as general audience newspapers and magazines. Even comic books and animation produced for a teenage or younger audience is apt to have the occasional depiction of a half-naked woman.

Despite all this, the image of male and female sexual organs are restricted in modern day Japan. Note that I used the phrase "modern day" because it was the process of modernization of the Japanese culture which brought about the issue of censorship. You see, back at the tail end of the Tokugawa era in the mid-1800s, Japan was suddenly forced out of isolation by the influx of trade with American and European nations.

From the perspective of a Western visitor, Japanese culture must seem primitive but also barbaric. Public baths and brothels were commonplace, as were the aforementioned erotic art and fertility imagery in religious shrines. Japan's political leaders must have felt a great deal of shame over this because around 1900 they began banning materials "injurious to public morals." In 1907 there came Article 175 of the Criminal Code which basically made those restrictions into law. In 1918 came a law that specifically dealt with censorship of the genital region in public media. The language of the law is actually quite vague stating, "... the pubic area need not be hidden but there should be no anatomical details to draw the viewer's attention."

In the aftermath of World War II, occupation forces drew up a new constitution for Japan and it included an article which would seem to negate previous attempts at banning free speech. Article 21 reads in part, "No censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated." Unfortunately, with the end of the occupation in 1952 came the re-enforcement of those old obscenity laws and they have been in use ever since.

There is evidence that a reinterpretation of these laws by liberal government officials has meant a less stringent enforcement of censorship regulations in the past decade. Unfortunately, until the Japanese government chooses to officially retract those 80 year old anti-obscenity laws or the legal system deems the restrictions unconstitutional, it's unlikely that we're going to be enjoying legally produced and sanctioned Japanese adult video without mosaic censorship.


6. Why is the girl's profile always include blood group?
Most people have likened the Japanese interest in blood types to the American obsession with astrology. The argument for this is that a person's blood should have more direct influence on him/her than the alignment of the stars and planets. Unfortunately, having only four different blood types to work with makes for some very broad statements about these groups.Type A - Calm, serious, hardworking, finicky, not emotional.

Type B - Curious, aloof, excitable, cheerful, unpredictable.
Type O - Charismatic, decisive, generous, authoritarian.
Type AB - Delicate, cautious, strict, sentimental.

This superstition is completely Japanese in origin having been set off by Furukawa Takeji's article "The Study of Temperament Through Blood Type" published in 1927. Despite the fact that his credentials and research were dubious at best and the work of supporters and skeptics over three-quarters of a century, Takeji's conclusions still form the basis of modern Japan's belief in blood as a determining factor towards character.

7. AV girls in American or European porn's production
A few ... e.g. AV star Mai Hoshino filmed a More Dirty Debutantes 188 with Ed Powers which was released in the Spring of 2001. It's just one scene at the end of the video in which she participates in a menage-a-trois with Powers and another girl.

8. Japan nude models
Most of the nude models who appear in men's magazines and photobooks are AV stars as well but there have been notable exceptions such as Mai Hagiwara, Mari Ayase and Kaori Nakatani.

9. AV actress recruitment
AV actress isrecruited by studio representative or AV talent agency. Some are sex industry workers (employee of soapland, bath house, or self-employed fuzoku girl) but just as many are literally scouted out on the streets, where young girls hang out like Shibuya, Roppongi and Harajiku with their signs and clipboards. In America one would be arrested for solicitation for doing this, but in Japan it's common place. JAV generally gets so many actresses and better looking, though probably less "professional" than their American porno counterparts. Walk-ins and cattle calls with girls who are eager to get into the business are not as common as in the U.S.