Have you Heard of the Story Behind Japan’s Very First Controversial Nude Poster?

  • Japan is often seen as a somewhat conservative country when it comes to fashion. For example, it’s normal to see people in bizarre or overly fashionable outfits in big cities like Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Kyoto, but chances are slim in smaller cities or in the countryside.

    Nowadays, while most people tolerate short shorts and skirts, as well as attractive gravure idol magazines in convenient stores, you may still be surprised at the story around the publishing of Japan’s very first provocative poster.

    How the story began

    The story started when Torii Shinjiro, the founder of the famous Japanese beverage company “Kotobukiya” now “Suntory” entrusted Kataoka Toshiro (Director) and Inoue Mokuda (Designer) with coming up with a new poster for Suntory’s “Akadama port wine” to represent the company’s best liquor (at that time) in a unique way that will look to inspire people.

    Matsushima Emiko

    The beautiful model and Opera singer, Matsushima Emiko, was selected to promote the brand, and the shooting started in Osaka featuring Matsushima in her traditional Japanese kimono, then in her inner wear, and then eventually topless.

    During that era in Japan, the shape of the arms, the nape of the neck, and the arms were regarded as a “real national mark of beauty”。Also, it’s worth mentioning that the poster was the first of its kind in Japan, and in 1922 it won first place at the Werbe-Kunst-Schau Exposition Nuremberg-Germany.


    Despite all the praise the poster received from the public, the beautiful Emiko Matsushima received criticism from her friends and family who believed the act to be shameful. To some degree “nudity” was accepted in Japan in paintings as a form of “art” but few people in Japan at the time considered photography a form of “art” which caused issues, not because of the nudity, but because the poster was based on a photograph.

    In 1983 Emiko Matsushima, the beautiful model appeared holding her controversial photo before she left the world in peace in April 1983. So what do you think? Are you inspired by her bold and daring attitude?

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