Michelangelo’s David Is Too Hot for Japan

by Kyle Chayka on February 6, 2013

Michelangelo's David in Japan (image via

Michelangelo’s David in Japan (image via

Okuizumo, Japan, stands paralyzed by an icon of Western art. A 16-foot-high replica of Michelangelo’s triumphant David sculpture was installed in the middle of a public park in the southern Japanese town, but locals think it might be a little bit too public.

Some Okuizumo residents have requested that the government add some underwear to the classical figure to hide its rather explicit features (this one definitely doesn’t sport a fig leaf). Apparently, toddlers are afraid of the David statue, as well as another replica of the Greek Venus de Milo, “because they are so big,” reports the Associated Foreign Press.

Concerns about the statue’s impact on children (or perhaps its ability to inspire jealousy in adults) might rise from the town’s isolated location and small size: Okuizumo has fewer than 15,000 townspeople, many of whom have probably never quite encountered anything like the naked David before.

Then again, despite Japan’s reputation for weirdness and an aesthetic heritage of erotic shunga prints, the country has an odd relationship with genitalia — explicit pornography is legal, but officially, it has to be censored with pixelated patches. This puts Japan in good company with the Chinese state media, who recently censored a Michelangelo sculpture on television.

Can’t a guy catch a break? There must be some nudist sculpture parks out there.

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  • Jennifer Wcisel

    As someone who lived in Japan for a few years, this reaction seems very uncharacteristic. I lived in a small town but nearly everyone had seen everyone else naked at the public onsen. Family members often bathe and shower together and nudity, especially among same-sex groups, seems fairly prevalent. I wonder what other factors are contributing to this!

  • Alex Teplitzky

    It’s somewhat understandable. The David sculpture was meant to be housed among other statues on the roof of the Florence Cathedral. On the ground and by itself it seems more than a little awkward.

  • Ryan Barrett

    Japan is very hypocritical when it comes to public displays of sexuality. That’s all I will say.

  • Laurentiu Todie

    Japan, the US, rural Europe and the MiddleEast are some of the reasons for my pixelated almost abstract artwork.

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