Japanese Adult Video Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is AV?
2. Why is AV so popular?
3. Who makes AV?
4. Is all AV censored?
5. Is that Chiasa Aonuma uncensored video legit?
6. What about the Bunko Kanazawa uncensored film?
7. What's really happening behind the censorship?
8: Why is Japanese adult video censored?
9. Where do I get AV
10. What is VCD and why is it so often used for AV?
11. Why do girl's profiles always include their blood type?

12. Can I download AV off the Net?
13. Have any AV girls crossed over to American or European porn?
14. Do all nude models in Japan do AV?

15. How are AV actresses recruited?


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 (or "bukkake"), scatology (pee & poop), and even older women videos (called "madam.")

2. Why is AV so popular?

Theories abound, of course, but my personal opinion is based on a few observations. First, the Japanese sex market, and consequently Japan's pornography trade, is so much larger than other Asian countries such as China, India and Korea. Some of this is politically motivated, others religious, but in any case Japan turns out to be more sexually permissive than most of the Pacific despite its hard line on censorship. Second, Japanese consumers like cute things whether its girls or cell phones. The Japanese male fantasy tends to revolve around beauty, youth and innocence in their women. This seems to strike a chord among connoisseurs who see American or European porn as somewhat lacking in these areas. And believe me, Japan has no shortage of young ladies who not only fit these criteria but are also willing to show off a little of their naughty side. Lastly, I believe Westerners are attracted to the exotic nature of Japanese women and Japanese AV. Here we tend to stereotype Asians in general as demure, bookish, even anti-sexual in a way. To see AV is to observe a whole other side of Japanese life and that adds another dimension to the feeling of arousal. At least it does for me.

3. Who makes AV?

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

Mainstream AV producers typically have been in the business the longest and 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, on the other hand, is all about 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.

There are too many independent AV firms to be listed here and many are being created and dismantled every day.

4. Is all AV censored?

All legally available AV is censored, at least in Japan. There is, of course, that third 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 another category of uncensored AV which I can only 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.

5. Is that Chiasa Aonuma uncensored video legit?

I know the video you're talking about which reportedly was filmed before her modeling and subsequent short-lived AV career. I have it on very good authority that it is NOT Chiasa. I've seen it myself and I don't even think it looks like her.

6. What about the Bunko Kanazawa uncensored film?

This too is a fake. It's actually Miai Kobato. XXXCyberstore should be ashamed of themselves for perpetuating this falsehood.

7. What's really happening behind the censorship?

Do you really want to know? If so, direct your browser to http://www.angelfire.com/ms2/jav/honban.htm which lists many AV girls by name and gives the low-down on who's faking it and who's not. I was surprised to see a few names in the "genuine" category whom I recognize. Among them:

Aya Andoh (Ramu Nagase)
Ami Ayukawa
Asuka Ogawa
Miu Kirishima

Yuri Komuro
Mai Shiina
Kaori Shimizu
Momoka Suzuki
Sena Wakana

The general rule is this: most AV girls fake having intercourse mostly because they can. The mosaic censorship allows for enough ambiguity from the viewer's perspective that it doesn't matter whether the sex is real. Maybe in the future they can deny culpability to a boyfriend or husband when the girl's sorted past is discovered. Anyway, here's a list of the acts the typical AV actress will or will not do.

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, some indie AV directors insist on real sex.

8. 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 is currently perhaps the most restrictive amongst the developed nations.

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 have seemed not only 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 (which they clearly are), it's unlikely that we're going to be enjoying legally produced and sanctioned Japanese adult video without mosaic censorship.

9. Where do I get AV?

For that you should consult my Links page and look under Retailers and Traders. Start with the traders page if you're on a budget but have a computer or DVD player that plays VCDs. There are some very affordable deals on the Retailers list, but don't buy direct from Japan unless there's a video you just absolutely must have.

If you live in a big city with a sizable Asian population, you might be lucky enough to have access to video stores or rental places that carry AV. San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York are a few cities which have places that specialize in Japanese imports. However, if you live in a city with a Chinatown or Korean population center, you might run into some AV purveyors there too.

10. What is VCD and why is it so often used for AV?

Video CD or VCD is video which has been digitized and recorded onto compact discs. Though VCDs are similar to DVDs, they differ in important ways.

VCDs use standard CD media just like audio CDs. They can also be created using CD-R technology and off the shelf software and hardware.

VCDs use lower quality compression technology than DVD. DVD used MPEG-2 compression while VCDs utilize the older MPEG-1. As such the video quality of VCDs are usually not as good as DVDs.

VCDs have a maximum capacity of 74-80 minutes depending on the recording media.

VCDs have never been a popular format outside of Asia. These days you're most likely to find them within China. Japan used to produce some VCDs but now most distributors have migrated to DVD.

Because VCDs can be copied cheaply and easily and thanks to the fact that a lot of bootlegs are produced in China, VCDs are a natural format for imported AV. Sure you can still find AV on tape but they suffer from video signal degradation after multiple generations of dubbing. VCDs, on the other hand, can be copied over and over and not degrade.

Virtually all computers with a CD-ROM drive can play VCD disks with the proper software. Many DVD players can also play VCDs though you should probably consult the VCD Helper web site for compatibility lists and more information about VCD in general.

11. Why do girl's profiles always include their blood type?

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.

12. Can I download AV off the Net?

Actually you can. Through the Usenet newsgroup alt.binaries.multimedia.erotica.asian, many movies are available in digital format suitable for watching on the computer or burning to VCD. You will need a fast connection and access to a newsgroup server which carries the a.b.m.e.a. group. Instructions for how to download and decode the files can be read at the ABME FAQ. If you're interested in seeing which titles have been posted to the newsgroup, check out the ABMEA Posting list.

13. Have any AV girls crossed over to American or European porn?

Just one. 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. (Thanks to Tenwfourty for the update.)

14. Do all nude models in Japan do AV?

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.

15. How are AV actresses recruited?

From what I've read, AV actresses are recruited by studio representatives or AV talent agencies. Some are sex industry workers (employees of soaplands, bath houses, or self-employed fuzoku girls) but just as many are literally scouted out on the streets. I've actually come across teams of recruiters in districts 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 commonplace. I think it's partly why 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.

Japan AV FAQ

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