Michelangelo's David in Japan (image via japantimes.com)

Michelangelo’s David in Japan (image via japantimes.co.jp)

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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Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...

3 replies on “Michelangelo’s David Is Too Hot for Japan”

  1. 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.

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

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