The Gruesome ‘Art’ of Daikichi Amano

By Michael Gakuran | | Japan | 50 Comments |

I’m not going to be roundabout with this. Today’s post borders on the sickening. If you want to hang onto your dinner or are easily offended, go back now. Even it takes a lot to offend you, consider yourself warned. But if you’re feeling a mite plucky, come with me on a philosophical journey.

Still here then? You’ve got guts! Or wait, are those guts where I think they..? Oh no. They are. Everywhere.

I’m impressed. You’re still reading. Well then, I’d best start writing a little bit about the curiosity that is Daikichi Amano. Self-proclaimed “perverted master of fish and girls”, this Katsushika Hokusai of the present age is anything but shy, frankly claiming his film-work is “not art, but porn“. (I would link to the source video documentary but it is just too explicit).

Many seem to disagree, however. Mondo Bizzarro Gallery describe his work quite eloquently:

Amano’s photographs are drawn from his own private fantasies. Fantasies that are animistic, animalistic and atavistic in nature, but all-too-human in execution, evoking primal fears and desires. In Amano’s world, the human body is worshipped and admired for its awesome beauty but also deformed and fused with nature – with wood, blood, bones, scales and feathers – transforming it into an erotic grotesque. But these frightful dioramas are also cut through with the blackest humour.

Most of his photography is surrealistic, but his videos might better be described as just ‘shocking’. The works of his adult film company ‘genki-genki’ are notorious. There is a very good reason I have not linked to the site; I think it exists in a category of its own for its sheer primal and explicit nature. But I imagine the more daring amongst you are already copying and pasting the name into Google. Do let me know your reactions in the comments, won’t you?

So why such a brazen post today? I guess I like to challenge my readers to confront themselves from time to time, and I think that’s exactly what this type of work does. It forces you to go places you’d never dreamed and in doing so better understand yourself. At least, that’s what I hope it does. I’d like you to really ponder over your reactions today.

Why are our impulses towards adult video and such explicit material usually so negative and powerful? What are the roots of our shameful feelings? Couldn’t pornography just be explained as a form of art and self-expression? And is it really *philosophically* morally wrong to create or view such material?

I know, I’m opening a can of worms on myself (sorry for the bad contextual pun). But I’d love to hear your thoughts :). Peace.

50 comments on “The Gruesome ‘Art’ of Daikichi Amano
  1. Stefani Joanne says:

    Hi, could I ask what got you into this fetish? No judgements here, just would like to know what you like about it?

  2. Jeff an Extreme horror fan says:

    I am an extreme horror fan and have movies that never saw the light of day from their country of origin like Ostermontag, The Green Elephant etc but Amano takes things to places you’d never dream of.  I love his art though the 1st time I watched one of his videos I was wincing. I now own 2 of them. His art is very erotic but not arousing at least to me, I can’t speak for others.  I place the videos more in the category of Fetish films like the Extreme Bondage and scat movies in Japan, if you don’t what scat is don’t ask because you don’t want to know. Do take the warnings about Mr Amano’s work seriously especially if you are close minded sexually and/or have a weak stomach.

  3. Mosomestingvt says:

    regarding your last questions, i don’t think it’s morally wrong to create (as long as the people being used in the porn are not doing sexual acts against their will) or view porn. personally, i don’t watch porn because i find it very…superficial. it’s just something to get off on. i’m a romantic and i like to watch/read romances. so yea….those are my thoughts. i’m too scared to check out the actual adult vids of amano but these kind of pictures….i don’t mind so much. it’s different from what i’m used to looking at, so i might go a little further but that’s probably it….
    you’d be surprised at how i innocently ran into this website…sighs…but curiosity got to me so i came. if anyone watches/reads usagi drop, i just wanted to google daikichi pictures because i find him so cute. sighs.
    thanks for the….unique pictures though :D

  4. Anonymous says:

    I also find the prevalence of pantyhose in Jap erotic art interesting. Even here, it makes its mark again. Not sure why J culture has such a thing for ph, but can’t say I disapprove. At all :=)

  5. Macky says:

    you are way cool. i’ve checked some of your things on you tube and it helped heaps. thanks xx

  6. ikumi says:

    あ・・・genkiのやつだ
    これ見たことありますw

  7. David says:

    Yeah… I couldn’t look away. My friend used to send me these horrific videos (without any warning) of things just slightly more disgusting than this… On second thought, they were much more disgusting than this involving eggs, ass and an omelet that people would actually eat (also from Japan). For being so prudey with their porn (mosaic, etc), they get into some wild fetishes. But I guess you can find this sort of stuff in any country. The octopi seem extra Japan though. Hehe.

    On another note. Really like your blog and your photography. I lived in Japan for a year back in the 90’s. One of the best experiences of my life. Keep up the good stuff.

  8. Sanvé says:

    Ah, thankyou for this article! After seeing the movie posters for some of his work in an Akiba shop, I told some friends who never did believe me that shit that utterly messed up (RL tentacle and parasite porn) could even exist. Now I have a name and a website to show them! Mwahaha. The real-life tentacle porn is a hilarious concept: grab a live octopus and a willing woman then insert the head so only the tentacles protrude. Such a work just oozes Japan’s reputation in the West (sadly!).

    Seriously though, his photography isn’t really creepy at all. I rather like that last one you posted of the ent-girl, beautiful art.

    • Gakuranman says:

      Yea, the photography is definitely much more towards the artistic side of the spectrum than what the videos seem to be. They require a lot more imagination to see past the shock factor and into the creativity, I suppose.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, that last image is spookily beautiful. The other ones just have me thinking “naked girl – good, naked insects – bad” in a pondering sort of way.

  9. Bebio Amaro says:

    I thought the function of porn was to help people masturbate. In that respect, if he was claiming to do porn and not art, this is an epic fail.

    On the other hand, they are powerful images, carefully assembled, with great attention to detail, and intentionally eliciting an emotional response from both the models and the viewers.

    Still, when all is said and done, I can’t help but feel a bit bored. Obviously, there are tons of people exploring the emotion of fear, just like this guy. And not just now, but also in the past. From Marquis de Sade to Takashi Miike, ending at the most recent Gus Van Sant movie, Antichrist.

    In the end, fear is an illusion created by our brains. I guess for these people, facing and exploring their fears is the best way to find resolve in their lives, to conquer tragedy, to spiritually evolve, and see beyond the obvious. To accept oneself, with all their virtues and faults. But after a while of doing this, what is the point? Either you move on, or it becomes just another fetish from which people cannot let go. Like the 2 packs of cigarettes that one smokes everyday. Instead of liberating our minds, it becomes just another niche market/subculture, a way to make money and get your monthly paycheck.

    I am currently doing historical research about the 16th century in Japan. Without getting into too much detail, in order to get the information I need, most of the stuff I have to read involves horrible depictions of people being tortured, killed, mutilated, robbed, betrayed, lied to, corrupted, raped,placed into slavery and many other inhumane things done to Japanese Christians, and some foreigners who were there as well. Many of people were killed on the streets outside the cities for no other reason than to try the new katana that had just been purchased. At the beginning, I did get one night of nightmares, but since then I have coped with it pretty well. Still, sometimes it gets heavy on the brain. On just one afternoon, I believe I had read in detail about the killing of 200 people or more.

    And due to this, there is very little that can shock me anymore. I was only slightly disgusted by the insects and animals on display. the human models themselves barely caused me any impression. But there was still an impression, nevertheless. Which means I have not yet completely become a soulless and insensitive create.

    In the end, shock plays an important role in our lives. And these images are fully deserving of the word “art”. But in the end of the day, after having had my brief moment of shock, I will go back to enjoying my lovely sunset photography, on a peaceful sea. Both shock and peace are necessary, but peace is more necessary to me than shock. Maybe it is because I have seen enough “shock” to last a lifetime. While I think these images are good, I feel no interest in revisiting them. It’s as if the idea, after having expressed itself, becomes exhausted of meaning. It is good that things like these exist, even if most people will never “get” them.

    In conclusion, this was an interesting post.

    • Gakuranman says:

      Thanks for the comment Bebio! Interesting thoughts on shock and peace :). I think I agree, I wouldn’t like to live a life where shock was the norm (for however long it could remain shocking). But every now and again, it helps keep me on my toes and remembering there is so much more to the world than what we come across in everyday life. I hope your research goes well (and keep those sunset pictures handy ;) ).

  10. yonasu says:

    That is mostly disgusting… xD

  11. Mats says:

    おはよう、Gakuranman. I’ve just recently discovered your blog and I am enjoying it muchly.

    I don’t have much to add really; I find this kind of art, even though only for the sake of grossing out and provoking, interesting and necessary. I don’t know about Japan as I am not there but Europe seems to be going in a neo Victorian direction. I don’t know if you’re up to date on what happens in the UK, but some weeks ago an exhibition of female croquis were taken down due to it’s “repulsive nature”. croquis??? Christ on a bike, what have we come to?

    a Swedish translator of Japanese in possession of Japanese pedophile manga (I do not know the term for this genre of manga… ?) has been arrested which has led to a discussion all over Scandinavia – I am situated in Copenhagen mysef – of whether this type of product should be made illegal. I am shaking my head… thoughts/fantasies/art illegal and persecuteable?

    I am by no means suggesting that everyone and his mother should have this kind of explicit art smacked in their faces but there has to be room for it, and I am glad that there are people like Daikichi Amano who are not afraid to explore it

    • Gakuranman says:

      Hey Mats. Cheers for the comment! It is slightly disturbing how uptight society is becoming, especially as you mentioned with regard to manga. It’s a very dangerous area right now and I know a lot of the material sold here in Japan would be extremely questionable back in the U.K.

  12. Locohama says:

    I think some artists work can be all three….disgusting, horrifying AND art. And this work qualifies as all 3. Good find!

  13. Valentina says:

    “Why am I not looking away?” This is exactly what I thought when I looked at Amano’s photos. I find most insects repulsive and I’m so scared of some of them that I can’t even look at pictures of them without feeling disgusted and/or “haunted” (I can’t find a better word to describe the sensation of having those things all over me or dangerously close to me). But when I looked at those photographs, surprisingly I didn’t feel anything of the sort: instead, I was fascinated and intrigued. If Amano can make me look at this kind of photos for more than half a second without feeling sick, it means that he’s a real artist! Thanks for this appealing post, another good piece in a very interesting blog (I’ve been following it for a while, but I never commented before…keep up the good work!) =)

    • Gakuranman says:

      Cheers for the comment. Ahh, refreshing! That we can stand to look at these sort of images does indeed stand testament to Amano’s skill as an artist. He walks a very fine line, but does it well, it seems!

  14. Valebere says:

    “Why am I not looking away?” This is exactly what I thought when I looked at the photos. I find most insects repulsive and I’m so afraid of some of them that I can’t even look at pictures of them without feeling disgusted and/or “haunted” by them…yet when I looked at these and other Amano’s photographs I didn’t feel anything of the sort, and I was actually fascinated and intrigued by them. If he can make me forget about my disgust for insects and look at his pictures for more than half a second without feeling sick, he must be a real artist! I loved this piece, and I really like your blog too (I’ve been following it for a while, but I never commented before…keep up the good work!) =)

  15. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think I could handle having cockroaches that close to my sexual organs. Even (especially?) dead ones — I assume they’re dead, anyway; how else could he arrange them so precisely? Ugh. I’m gonna go buy some cloth for a class now.

    • Gakuranman says:

      I should hope that they are dead. Some of them must be for the photos to have been taken. Or they were glued down.. o.O;

      • Anonymous says:

        Interesting – it makes a difference, doesn’t it? If they somehow had been live (and, well, kinda “marshalled”) it would have been indescribably worse. As it is, they are merely (“merely”!) rather beautiful shiny objects if one can get away from the many-legged creepiness.

        I’m sure birds – such as crows – for example (cf. last image), would find the images to be “food porn”, for example.

        Oh well, I’m off to have lunch now. Good job it doesn’t look anything like beetles.

  16. Eric West says:

    gutsy post. I’m impressed. I’m really uncertain about my reaction to these photos. I’m going to have to sit with these feelings a little bit in order to sort out what they are.

  17. arsencoffee says:

    Bad idea to ignore your warnings and read this post after dinner, haha.

    Artistic, yes.
    But because this makes my stomach sick, for me this is so wrong.

    I’m a female and I don’t mind the erotica part, but why he have to make it so… Scary? Horrifying? Disgusting? I couldn’t seem to find a right word. I could see how he give those art touches through colors, composition, emotion, etc, but this is definitely not a kind of ‘art’ I would normally accept.

    Also I’m glad I could refrain myself from opening his genki-genki site… I hope he could ensure the best hygiene aftercare for his models.

    • Gakuranman says:

      Thanks for the comment! And well done for getting through the post.

      Yes, in the video documentary I watched he said they only use animals fit for human consumption and that he has never had a problem with hygiene before.

      It’s interesting though, why do you think that this isn’t the kind of art you’d accept? Is it because it disgusts you? Would you consider scary things not to be art? (I’m thinking of horror films here). Is art relegated to things beautiful..? It’s a fascinating area to think about why we reject certain things and not others.

  18. Gakuranman says:

    You’re welcome! I think the pornographic side of things is much more obvious in Daikichi Amano’s video work. I deliberately chose the most artistic and non-offensive images for this post, because the others are just too adult. And my Mum reads this blog :p.

    I agree with you about people being intrigued but afraid to admit it. Why do you think society dictates these kind of responses appropriate..?

    • I think the photos are really beautiful. They take something we all think is beautiful (a fertile woman) and combines it with something that is not typically considered beautiful (nature and the insect world) but asks why they’re not beautiful together. However, I sense the rest of his work trails from this theme into blatant exploitation, and i don’t really care to watch any of it. 

  19. Anonymous says:

    A warning for anyone thinking these are the extents to which Amano’s works go and want to look up more of his work, and who thinks Michael’s warnings are over cautious; there are places that fish are not meant to go that Amano likes to put them ;-p

    Some of the stories from Amano’s shoots are hilarious, horrifying and gross. He does just seem to be trying to gross people out… and yet he has such an artistic touch that he cannot help but create powerful, beautiful images. Well, most of the time… three girls, six eels, three hours was just a step too far.

    He says he likes to catch real emotion in his pictures. So if he wants a girl to look bored he’ll find a way to bore her. If he wants her to look surprised he’ll dump a bucket of squid on her. His techniques may be controversial but they work. He DOES capture real emotions and I think this is what helps to keep his work from falling squarely into the freakish, fetish porn slot.

    His pictures aren’t just “pretty girl + prop” and they don’t just create sexual feelings. Any one with a pretty girl, a prop and a camera can make pornographic images, but Amano elicits more from his viewers, whether on purpose or not. What those emotions are relies on the viewers own feelings, but they are very, very rarely complete revulsion and are often mixed with intrigue and then, what I can only describe as “why am I not looking away?”

    Also, he insists that all animals used in his work are consumed by the crew after filming, so their deaths don’t go to waste. Can’t help but like him for that XD

    • Gakuranman says:

      Haha. I completely forgot to write that bit about the eating! I guess it wouldn’t make sense without me having gone into the details of his videos, but I think you did that well enough ^^;. Yes, at least the food does not go to waste, and all the models involved are people who offer to do the shoots because of their own curiosity or self-interests.

      You have to respect the guy for pushing boundaries and creating such a powerful juxtaposition between revulsion and intrigue in his videos.

    • Mosomestingvt says:

      the last part made me lol. lately i’ve been reading stuff like guro (i can’t watch real porn. it’s too much for me) and i always read comments talking about how intriguing it is. i never understood how sometimes readers make it seem really “deep” when i just saw it as something….entertaining in only a superficial yet interesting way. after reading your comment, i think i can understand that view a little more, but i still feel the way i feel about guro and “art” like this. hope i’m not offending anyone. i found your comment somewhat enlightening though…..

  20. Anonymous says:

    Well, you can’t really even be calling it porn as porn, at least to my understanding, is including intercourse of some sorts. This is just, um, artistic nude and that’s that. And I think they’re really impressive, displaying two complete opposites this way: a woman and insects (which I find incredibly disgusting – I might have a fobia).

    Well, these are my thoughts anyway.

  21. Sabine says:

    I like these photos! Not the kind of stuff I would frame and hang on my walls, but from a purely artistic standpoint, I think they are fantastic. The colors, composition and creativity are great. I like the fact that the Japanese are generally a lot more “mature” / less “prudish” (for lack of better terms) than Westerners when it comes to nudity.

    • Gakuranman says:

      He certainly is a photographer, isn’t he? Wonderful compositions, colours and stories weaved into all the images. I tend to like the higher level of acceptance to nudity and mature content out here as well :).

  22. Jill Sylvan says:

    Did he design some of the female monsters in Garo?

  23. Dave Steele says:

    I think what it comes down to is that instinctual responses make us uncomfortable because they are beyond our control, something that just happens on autopilot no matter if it is completely opposite to our beliefs. Those base animal desires are always there just below the surface, and on the occasions that they rear their heads we are are reminded that we are just animals too.

    We feel fear, attraction, desire, lust, and the whole time our heads are trying to tell ourselves that this doesn’t scare me/turn me on/entice me, but it’s still there…

    • Gakuranman says:

      Hey Dave. Cheers for sharing your thoughts! So you reckon the reaction to the creatures is based on primal instincts? The flight syndrome for things that can harm us?

      How about the moralistic reaction to the images? Especially the videos that verge on pornography?

      • n0ra says:

        A lot of people tend to feel morally disgusted by porn, even relatively mild erotica, and sexuality and expressing it are still taboos in many ways. It seems to me the less comfortable one is with their own sexuality, the more disgusted they feel about others expressing anything of sexual nature – maybe seeing pornographic imagery forces those people to confront emotions and thoughts they wish not to. Fear of the unknown, cultural conditioning to sex as a taboo?

        I love the photos for the artistic qualities, but the insects do make me shudder. The videos make me think of recently dead corpses or patients with some hideous diseases, with the worms and medical instruments and all. On the other hand, art that elicits a response in me, even if that response is a shudder, is better than bland and boring. :)

        • Gakuranman says:

          Interesting thoughts! Perhaps not being comfortable with oneself is a cause of disgust at seeing things of a sexual nature. I’d definitely agree fear of the unknown is another big factor. We see examples of it every day and how people gradually overcome the fear when they have been exposed to and better understand the topic (as an example, I’m thinking of the ‘fear’ many Japanese people have of interacting with foreigners at first).

          I like your last comment especially. ‘Art that elicits a response.’ Perhaps that’s the sign of a good piece of art – something that moves people, for better of for worse…

      • Dave Steele says:

        I think the moralistic outrage is an extension of this, yes. If someone is raised in a system that has taught them that something is wrong, even sinful, and then they are then exposed to that their subconscious/reptile brain/whatever you want to call it fires off a response that may be counter to those teachings, it makes the person extremely uncomfortable. The usual response is not to just avoid it themselves, but to try to ban it and prevent others from experiencing it too.

        As for the other reactions, I do think that the natural fears of things that may harm us that has been built up as a survival mechanism over generations is what is driving that, along with a sort of empathetic response to seeing injured/dead people, we see them and immediately put ourselves in their place, and it’s not a place we generally want to be :)

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