Stolen Dreams and the Japanese School

(Last Updated On April 18, 2017)

[January 23, 2017] In the middle of 2016, JaguarPC (our service provider at the time) ordered the removal of these images based on a very officious request from a watchdog organization in Germany.  Therefore for the rest of 2016, a redacted version of this post without images was published instead.  It is my great pleasure—and due to the good graces of our new host—to inform you that these images have now been restored.  The details of the original complaint have been pasted to the end of this post.  -Ron

For months now, I have been puzzling over how to introduce the numerous Japanese photographers who prospered in a culture that developed in the aftermath of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita in 1955 and the subsequent open attitude toward nudity and sexuality that transpired in Western Europe and North America.

The solution presented itself a few weeks ago. For the past couple of years, I have been on the lookout for new material after realizing that the fascination with young nude girls was not a phenomenon limited to a handful of artists of the hippie generation. An item called Dream Girls recently appeared on the secondary market and as I did not recognize the cover image, I figured it would contain images by artists I had not heard of. Once I received it, I realized it was not a conventional publication. Although I found many models and artists I did not know, there were many I did recognize and with a little digging, I confirmed my suspicions: it was a bootleg publication of work taken from numerous photographers published in Japan in the early 1980s.

I don’t claim to have a clear solution to the issues of intellectual property. Staunch capitalists would insist that photographs and other intellectual property—inventions, music, film, etc.—be treated like any other property and respected absolutely. This is not practical simply because intellectual property is not the same kind of thing as physical property which has a natural scarcity, a key component in capitalist principles. However, I can’t say I condone what this publisher did either since, as things stand, artists must endeavor to survive in a highly monetarized culture with vulturine agents and companies exploiting their talent for personal gain. Dream Girls was published by Passion Press in New York in 1996 and is ostensibly copyrighted and has an ISBN. Instead of taking an educational tack as others have done, the images were reproduced from books almost certainly without the artists’ knowledge and marketed as simple eye-candy with lowbrow comics interspersed throughout the pages. No information about any of the photographers, illustrators or their work is given.

The remarkable thing about the “Lolicon” phenomenon in Japan is the level of freedom and creativity exhibited. Unlike Western countries with a peculiar tendency to regard human sexuality with suspicion or contempt, Japan’s isolation from this powerful puritanical culture has allowed them more freedom of expression—still apparent in the multitude of manga imagery available. This is changing, however, as the Japanese economy becomes a more integral part of economic globalization and must necessary adopt the biases of the dominant Western forces driving it. Photography books featuring young girls are becoming more expensive and hard to find so there is a new urgency to try to objectively educate the current generation about what has come before.

One of the amusing aspects of this book is how it deals with censorship. Because of its marketing tactics, it makes sense to simply avoid any frontal nudity at all. The images were carefully selected and cropped accordingly. Thus what you see here is not what you would have seen in the original publications and in the more extreme cases, I make some comment. Even the quality of the reproductions were poor with low resolution and little care in alignment; scanning these images for this post was something of a nightmare. I must commend this publisher for one thing though: at least he did not disfigure the images with unsightly marks or erasure of the genital area. Some particularly egregious examples of this—presumably in an effort to comply with certain laws—will be offered in a future post.

And thus I am afforded the opportunity to give you a solid overview of late 20th Century Japanese photographers (and a few Europeans who published in Japan) without the exhaustive research necessary for a single artist. One of the reasons I have been less productive lately is that I have taken an interest in transcribing and translating foreign books in an effort to offer you more about the background of these pieces. In the future, many of these images will be presented again with better quality, background and with a greater respect for the artist’s intent.

The greatest number of images in the book come from Yoji Ishikawa. He is probably the most prolific of those covered here and the best known the in the United States. I remember rejecting one of his books because the seller had not thought to include more images of the little girls. Later, when I saw a better selection of images, I realized how delightful they were. Even given my obvious bias, I think Ishikawa’s work with the younger girls is more imaginative while his work with teens and young women seem to fall back on a bland conventional expression of eroticism.

This image is of Sophie Despineux, admittedly the artist’s favorite model. It is too bad a better example wasn’t found for Dream Girls. I think the special appeal was not so much due to the girl’s photogeneity, but because she was imaginative and willing to engage in visual experimentation with the photographer.

Yoji-Ishikawa – Sophie (c1980)

Chloé is one of my favorite models as I imagine that Ishikawa posed her in a way that Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) must have posed his models. Here she is feigning sleep, a favored tactic in Victorian times to help with the long exposures. The lower part of this image was cropped.

Yoji Ishikawa – Chloé (c1980)

Once I started making some headway with learning about Japanese artists, Shizuki Obuchi became my favorite. I could recognize the bright charm he brought out in his young models even from a rough reproduction of the cover of one of his books. The image below comes from a book that translates to The World of Lolicon. This image is severely cropped as the original features a pair of girls named Hélène and Claire. Although this girl is otherwise completely naked, this artist favors girlish accoutrements like bows, ribbons and other hair ornamentation. Obuchi is recognized for his mastery of the genre and even wrote a book, How to Shoot Little Girls. I am currently transcribing that book and hope to share some of the insights in a future post.

Shizuki Obuchi – Hélène and Claire (c1980)

Another top photographer of the genre is Takashi Kuromatsu. He covered a wide age range with great skill. This image comes from Le Petite Parisienne, probably his finest work.

Takashi Kuromatsu – Daphdée (1983)

People often assume that because of the “eye-candy” quality of this subject matter, only men engage in this kind of photography. That is far from the truth and it is my experience that women photographers consistently express a heightened erotic tension in their work. One of the best early examples is Hiromi Saimon. The next two images come from a book called Märchen Story (Märchen means fairy tale in German) and features Yuka Hayami, a model with a large following in Japan. Saimon also produced an excellent book, KinPouGe, featuring a French girl named Marianne.

Hiromi Saimon – Yuka (c1982) (1)

Like Sawatari, this artist played with the Alice theme incorporating a doppelganger for the model in a number of images. A point I find amusing here is that genital display is acceptable because it belongs to a doll.

Hiromi Saimon – Yuka (c1982) (2)

I don’t know if Jean-Louis Michel is really French or if this is the alias of a Japanese artist. I will know more when my transcriptions are complete. However, his books on young girls (I know of at least three) were only published in Japan and this is the case for a handful of other European photographers as well.

Jean-Louis Michel – Virginie and Valentine (c1980)

At first glance, this scene may seem to be from a naturist magazine, but it is obviously staged with the girls being cued to disrobe at the same time.

Jean-Louis Michel – (untitled) (c1980)

The remaining artists seem to have become known from only one major work or some book was published without mention of the artist’s name.

This image is from Little Pretenders and shot by Takao Yamaki.

Takao Yamaki – Yoko (c1980)

Shot by another European, Patrick Morin, this image was published in a book called Lolita (Part I). It is far superior to its sequel which was a compilation of images from another photographer entirely containing less artful spontaneous naturist shots. I suppose it was a crude attempt by the publisher to capitalize on the success of the first book. I find it odd that this image was chosen as the angle and costume in this shot makes the model appear less youthful than she does in her other photographs.

Patrick Morin – Vanessa (c1980)

The next two images come from a compilation of several artists under the title Lolita Sisters featuring Japanese girls exclusively. I had not heard of either of these artists before my recent investigations. The first is by Kunihiko Shinoda who made the largest contribution to the book.

Kunihiko Shinoda – Flower Fairy (c1980)

This image is by Masayoshi Kondo (近藤昌良), better known for his book Little Angels.

Masayoshi Kondo – Spirit of Light (c1980)

The last two images are from books that seem to be mainstream publishing efforts but the artist is not identified. There are a number of books like these in Japan and Europe that feature one artist’s coverage of just one model.  From background clues and a tip from a fan (see comments), it appears that the first girl was Danish and the photo shoot took place in Copenhagen. The book is called Comme La Nymphe.  A reader has just informed me that the photographer of the first image is also Patrick Morin (please see comment below).

Patrick Morin – Charlotte (c1978)

This image comes from a book called Strange Little Lady but the original Japanese indicates that she is strange in the sense that she is foreign (a Caucasian girl) as opposed to being “odd” in character. She is not given a name and the work reminds me of the style of Charles DuBois Hodges except for the use of color.

(artist unknown) – from Strange Little Lady (c1980)

One or two of the images may have come from Sumiko Kiyooka—which is in the correct time frame—but I did not include them because I could not make a positive identification. Other important artists were not included here because they came along later or published outside Japan but it would be fair to include them in any survey of Japanese artists; Ayako Parks, Nobuyoshi Araki and Satoshi Kizu come most immediately to mind. There are also many others who did extensive work with little girls, but did not include nudes and they will be featured here in due course as well.

I could naturally use some help with more details on the artists covered here, but as it is my hope that Pigtails in Paint be more a community collaboration, I have posted the remaining images I could not identify on the ‘Little Orphan Images’ page for readers to examine and share their knowledge. I invite you all to take a look.

Original disclaimer regarding the request (and JaguarPC’s) compliance in removing these images:

On May 11, 2016, an organization called FSM-Hotline, sent a request to Pigtails in Paint’s service provider to remove this page and a companion page called ‘Dream Girls’ from this site. Since our service provider is not knowledgeable on this matter and has a great deal of latitude in interpreting its Terms of Service (TOS) (“child pornography or content perceived to be child pornography”), Pigtails had no recourse but to remove the “offending” pages.  (See original press release for more details)

There are serious issues regarding jurisdiction, authority, legal definitions and an ambiguously worded TOS, but the biggest problem is the insult this represents to our efforts to educate the public and build a better world.

It should be unequivocally stated that the images originally appearing on this page are not pornography! 1) These girls were not coerced, including coercion arising from economic need, into participating in these photo shoots. 2) The images were not produced for the purpose of sexual titillation, but aesthetic and intellectual appreciation. 3) The poses do not include sexually-suggestive postures or overt sexual behavior. 4) The images do not involve any interactions with adults. 5) None of the images focuses on the genitals or buttocks of the models. Therefore, by any rational definition of any court in the world, these images do not individually or most especially in the context of this site represent any form of child pornography.

I strongly urge readers to push back against this kind of misguided and misinformed intimidation. This case has been assigned a unique report number, 54892, and the FSM-Hotline can be contacted at the following email address: hotline@fsm.de

22 thoughts on “Stolen Dreams and the Japanese School

  1. Some of these pics used to be at a website called Tiny Angels.net between 1999 and 2010 (at least). The site was closed because of accusations of publishing kiddie porn.

    As I knew, some of the more recent sets there were about the last nineties (1996 or so) and were shot at the post-Soviet Russia. Personally I think that economical situation at Russia by then could be so critical after any parents accepted that a photographer -a foreigner in this case- shot her preteen and teen daughters in the nude. Maybe I am wrong, but I think that these pics might be in the future a sort of testimonial of the hard situation at Russia after the Soviet collapse. My two cents.

  2. I would like to know if you have more data on the Belgian model Sophie Despineux. I have seen the photos before and I think that the first was from a photo book (12 years old, thin and in a canoe) and then a second book which is where the photo on this page came from. The second book also featured her mother, but you cannot even see her face. This I read on a site that no longer exists, and in that book there appears the cemetery where her father was buried. I only read that once so I cannot confirm it.
    Also, there is a rumor that Sophie Despineux adopted the name “Sophie Patitz”. Is that true? Do you have more information about it now?
    And Vanessa, photographed by Patrick Morin, as far as I know this was the only series of photos in which she appeared. Do you know something more about it?

    • I have not done much more on Japanese artists like Yoji Ishikawa because there is a lot of work that needs to be done in Japanese. Sophie was the favorite model of Ishikawa and so there are many images of her. Because of her fame, she may have needed to change her name, but this is the first I have heard of it. In time, I will be doing posts on Ishikawa, Morin and many similar artists but it will take time because of the language barrier. We are badly in need of Japanese transcribers and translators to help in this effort. Sorry I cannot offer any more at this time. Please be patient. -Ron

  3. Hi Ron, i would like to make some comments:
    Charlotte of the book Comme La Nymphe was photographed by Patrick Morin, if you look for in google, you will find this information, i found this photobook in a geocities site in 2001 and it seems that the photos were taken in Paris, but i have not sure about location.
    I suggest you do a second part of this post talking about photographers like Satoshi Kizu, he did great photobooks in late 90s.
    I’m amazed by the beauty of Chloé, the model of Yoji Ishikawa, please make a new and complete post about Chloé, i would like much to know the exact period she posed for Yoji Ishikawa, the full list of all photobooks that she was featured, her country of origin and where to find all photobooks that Chloé was featured.
    Thank you very much for your awesome work in this blog, i found your blog recently and now i’m a reader always.
    Best Regards.

    • Lucho,
      Thank you for your kind words and valuable lead. I have made the modification to the post. The images were taken in Copenhagen because one of our readers recognized the neighborhood in the outdoor scenes and used to own the book. Also, another clue is the language of the various shop names and advertisements which clearly indicate Danish. Patrick Morin seems fairly low profile so it makes sense that no one knew he was the photographer. Probably his most well-known work is for ‘Lolita Part 1’ published in Japan for which some samples were in the ‘Stolen Dreams’ post.
      ‘Stolen Dreams and the Japanese School’ was intended as an introduction to Japanese artists who employed a particular style of shooting young girls–many of them Caucasian. They are often referred to as part of the Lolicon phenomenon and I intend to do posts on each of these artists in due course. Perhaps the most definitive work is that of Shizuki Obuchi whose ‘How to Take a Little Girl’s [Picture]’ I am in the process of translating.
      Chloe is an interesting case in point because I believe her physical type and the way she was posed is the closest to how Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) wanted to portray his nudes–most of which were destroyed. I do intend to do a post on Yoji Ishikawa, but nothing on Chloe in particular (although I may include images of her emphasizing spirit of Dodgson’s work). She appears most prominently in a book called ‘Mada, Shojo’ (まだ、少女) with the model Nancy appearing on the cover.
      A number of artists were not in the ‘Dream Girls’ book and I will be covering them as well. Most importantly is Kazuo Kenmochi who is credited for starting the whole thing. I have already done a post on Hajime Sawatari and will do a follow-up that emphasizes the other work Samantha Gates has participated in. Yes, I intend to cover Satoshi Kizu who is one of the most recent artists and would still be publishing work were it not for the draconian restrictions in Japan. Other artists include: Sumiko Kiyooka, Ayako Parks, Nobuyoshi Araki, Teruo Maeba and others as I discover them.
      Thank you again for your comment. -Ron

  4. Hi Ron. Great site you got here, just one thing: Charlotte is not German but Danish
    and it is probably a bit older, like 1976 – 78 but it could be later.

    • Dear Borge,
      Thank you for this. I assumed the girl was German since there was every indication that this was shot in Munich. I will make the adjustment. However, you are still holding out on me. If you know the model is Danish, why not tell me the name of the photographer as well? If you cannot understand the Japanese, you are welcome to email me a clear scan of any text so I can translate it. -Ron

      • I Lost the set some years ago but I remember that some of the signs in the first street picks was in Danish ( I am Danish ) and the images looked like they was taken in Copenhagen. Rodex trading ( Collar Climax, all the LL series and so on ) stopped CP back in 1975 ( new law ) but i know that some of the attached photographers worked freelance in the nudity business in the time that followed and I think that this series is one of the results eventually ending up being sold to the Japanese. I have no idea who made it but I’ll ask around.

        • I am so embarrassed. When I took a closer look, I realized that I misread a word that I took to be German. I hereby retract my suggestion that it was shot in Munich and agree that it was probably in Copenhagen. I thank you for your efforts. I had heard that certain freelance photographers in the US and Europe did some work with child nudes but also had to work for pornography magazines to pay the bills. It is understandable that they would not divulge their name or use an alias to keep the different lines of work separate. It must be off-putting for a parent willing to have some tasteful nudes done of their child to learn that the photographer also shoots [adult] porn. Not everyone is as talented and lucky as Jock Sturges who can afford to devote his entire career to art/documentary photography. -Ron

  5. “Hrm, Pigtails has been kinda quiet lately, let’s go check it ou… OH MY WORD!”
    What a great article – and a perfect introduction to the Japanese loli-photography scene.
    I like how you approach the subject geographically. It seems like there are definite differences in how each region tackles the subject, and that lets you have some continuity and consistency through each set of articles, so you can focus on what sets each artist apart from their compatriots, rather than having to spend time describing the common differences between other countries.
    I’m looking forward to future articles on Japan’s vast body of “loli” girl-art, and found it interesting that you start the Japanese articles with photography. The vast majority of Japan’s girl-art, to my naïve eye, seems very far from Pigtails’ usual high-art theme, so starting at the most-realistic-possible end of the spectrum suggests you may well be charting an unusual tack through these well-traveled waters.

    • Dear Catwheezle,
      I know because of my somewhat scholarly approach, many may have gotten the impression that we are high-art now. Pigtails is interested in any portrayal or little/young girls in the arts and media. Since I have a little more expertise in photography, it was natural that I would start there. In fact, I would love someone knowledgeable about the various forms of manga to contribute as neither Pip nor I are experts. We both love Hayao Miyazaki films (not exactly considered anime/manga) and I am a fan of Oyari Ashito and that is it. I am serious about giving Pigtails the feel of a community effort and that requires a wide range of voices. -Ron

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