Japan has got one of the most distinct and immediately recognizable cultural footprints of any modern civilization. Whether that culture is worth preserving is another question entirely. The legacy of their art and feudal history has resonated worldwide in Western cinema and literature for decades, but post-Hiroshima/Nagasaki Land of the Rising Sun’s cultural output has taken a dramatic shift. After WWII, Japan was in flux from imposed Western influences and the forced reforms necessary following the shattering of their image and government. One of the most obvious scars left by this post-war era is Japan’s ludicrous obscenity laws which remain in effect until this day. Depictions of genitalia are considered obscenities and strictly censored, but porn creators have gotten around these archaic laws by substituting genitals for a variety of other objects that somehow skirt the edges of the law. This has created a $20 billion dollar industry catering almost exclusively to fetishes. From bestiality and cartoon pornography to molestation and the so-called ‘geronto-porn’; glorious Nippon seems to cater to both everyone and no one. But fans of Japanese ‘Silver porn’ (think MILFs but add a couple of decades) have just suffered a major blow with the announcement of industry icon Maori Tezuka’s retirement.
One of the largest sub-sections of Japanese pornography is based on age fetishism. and this where things get really weird. Child pornography was still made legally up until the late 90s and the possession of such materials was legal until just 3 years ago. Cartoon depictions of such imagery and porn catering specifically to pedophiles with young looking (and acting) stars are still widely available, however. This mainstream Japanese perversion (even singer Pharrell Williams expressed his love for underage cartoon pornography) has become a running joke in the West. But with around 34 million people (over a quarter of Japan’s population) over the age of 65, the age shift towards ‘geronto-porn’ (or granny porn) has caused a new kind of boom. In fact, a whopping 25% of the Japanese porn industry is exclusively catering to this demographic. 82-year-old male porn star Shigeo Tokuda became the figurehead for an entire genre, starring in hundreds of porn movies with provocative titles such as ‘Forbidden Elderly Care’. But this particular fetish wasn’t just old men having sex with young girls, acting as a surrogate for aging aficionados. The opposite sex found their own idol in Maori Tezuka.
9 years ago, Maori Tezuka was ready for a change in her life. After a decades-long and successful career as an opera singer, Tezuka felt it was time to put her other natural skills out there. At the age of 71 she starred in her first pornographic film. Her motto? “Once the lights go on, you just do your best.” But almost a decade and dozens of films later, she’s ready to throw in the crusty towel. Many rumors circulated in the industry, until Tezuka herself took to the media and gave her reasons for calling it a day. “I have no regrets, but shooting became difficult when the actor wasn’t my type.” It seems like her male counterparts could not keep up with the geriatric starlet. With a skewed porn star ratio of 70 male actors to every 100.000 female actors, it’s become impossible not only to find quantity but also quality in male porn stars.
It was time to step out of the spotlight, but with a rabid fanbase asking if she will consider returning to the industry, Tezuka remains coy. ‘It was never about the money for me. I’ve already been asked about returning in two or three years – I said I’d think about it.”