Why is Japanese Erotica Censored? The Surprising Reason Behind the Mosaic

Find out the real reason why is Japanese erotica censored and learn about the history and cultural significance behind the mosaic.

Japan is known for its unique culture and traditions, but one aspect that often confuses people is the country’s censorship laws when it comes to pornography. Japanese erotica is notorious for being censored with a mosaic, and many people wonder why this is the case. In this article, we will explore the history and cultural significance behind the mosaic and why Japanese erotica is censored.

What is the Mosaic?

The mosaic is a common censorship technique used in Japanese pornographic media. It involves adding a digital or physical mosaic to the genitals and sometimes the pubic hair of performers. This effectively covers up the explicit content, making it less visible and less explicit.

The use of the mosaic is so widespread in Japan that it is almost considered a genre in and of itself. There are even categories of erotica that are exclusively censored with the mosaic, known as “mosaiced erotica” or “mosaic-free erotica.”

Why is Japanese Erotica Censored?

The history of censorship in Japan can be traced back to the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century. During this period, Japan was rapidly modernizing and adopting Western culture and values. As part of this modernization, the government began to regulate the media, including pornography.

Why is Japanese Porn Censored
Mosaic technique used in adult films | Credit: boingboing

The first law regulating pornography was introduced in 1907, which banned the sale and distribution of obscene materials. This law was later updated in 1951 to include a prohibition on the public display of pornographic materials.

Meiji Restoration | Credit: Worldhistory

However, it wasn’t until the 1980s that the mosaic became a widespread censorship technique in Japanese pornography. This was due in part to the introduction of VCRs and video cassettes, which made it easier for people to watch pornographic videos in the privacy of their own homes.

The mosaic quickly became the preferred method of censorship in Japan for several reasons. First, it was a quick and easy way to comply with the censorship laws without having to cut or edit the content. Second, it allowed for the creation of a separate market for uncensored erotica, which could be sold at a higher price to those who were willing to pay for it. Finally, it added an element of titillation and taboo to the content, which some viewers found more exciting.

A sex shop in Tokyo | Credit: shankar s.

Cultural Significance of the Mosaic

The mosaic has become such a ubiquitous part of Japanese pornography that it has taken on a cultural significance of its own. In fact, some argue that the mosaic has become an integral part of the Japanese pornographic experience.

One reason for this is that the mosaic has become a marker of Japanese identity. In a world where pornography is increasingly globalized and homogenized, the mosaic serves as a symbol of Japanese uniqueness and cultural specificity.

The mosaic has also become a way for performers to protect their privacy and anonymity. In a country where pornography is still stigmatized, many performers prefer to keep their identities hidden. The mosaic allows them to do this while still engaging in the industry.

Finally, the mosaic has become a way for Japanese erotica producers to differentiate themselves from their foreign counterparts. By emphasizing the mosaic and the censorship laws that require it, they are able to create a sense of exclusivity and authenticity that sets them apart from other producers.

Impact on the Erotica Industry

The use of the mosaic has had a significant impact on the Japanese erotica industry, both positive and negative.

On the positive side, the mosaic has allowed for the creation of a unique and distinct genre of pornography that has its own fans and followers. This has created a niche market that producers can cater to, which has allowed for a diverse range of content to be produced and consumed. Additionally, the mosaic has helped to protect performers’ privacy and allowed them to work in the industry without fear of being recognized or stigmatized.

This is Japan’s billion dollar industry

On the negative side, the mosaic has limited the international reach of Japanese pornography. Due to the censorship laws, many countries, including the United States and Australia, have banned the importation and distribution of uncensored Japanese pornographic materials. This has significantly impacted the revenue of Japanese erotica producers and has limited their ability to reach a wider audience.

Value of the non-contact sex self-pleasure (pornography) market in Japan from fiscal year 2015 to 2019 | Credit: Statista

In recent years, some Japanese erotica producers have begun to produce uncensored content for international markets. However, this has come with its own set of challenges, including the need to comply with different censorship laws in each country.


The mosaic has become an iconic symbol of Japanese pornography and has played a significant role in the development of the industry. While the censorship laws that require the mosaic can be seen as restrictive, they have also created a unique and distinct genre of pornography that has its own cultural significance.

Despite the challenges posed by the mosaic and censorship laws, Japanese pornography continues to thrive and evolve. As technology and cultural attitudes change, it will be interesting to see how the industry adapts and evolves to meet new challenges and opportunities.

In conclusion, the mosaic is a fascinating aspect of Japanese pornography that is deeply rooted in the country’s history and culture. While it may seem strange to those unfamiliar with the genre, it is an integral part of the industry and has helped to shape its development and evolution over time.

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