Shoetsu Otomo (大友正悦) was born in 1950. Very little information about his life prior to meeting his most famous model, Satomi Hiromoto (廣本悟己)is available. At the time he met her, in the latter half of 1980 or the first half of 1981, Otomo was already a photographer. When the Kanji characters for his name are entered into an automatic translator, the name is rendered as Masayoshi Otomo. On the covers of his books, however, Otomo spells his name with the Latin alphabet as Shoetsu Otomo, and that is the spelling I will use. Many thanks to a Pigtails reader who provided most of the photographs that illustrate this article.
Shoetsu Otomo – Satomi (circa 1984)
An article on the lolicon website Argonorakuza implies that Otomo specialized in travel and landscape photography. Children often appeared in the background of the scenes he photographed. Otomo was quoted as saying , “I can’t compete with the smiles of children.” and “When you meet the smiles of cute children, you can’t help but press the shutter.”
Shoetsu Otomo – Satomi at Age Eight (1980-81) (1)
Satomi Hiromoto was born in Tokyo, Japan on June 5, 1972. In 1979 she entered Oizumi Elementary School attached to Tokyo Gakugei University. When Satomi was eight years old, Otomo noticed her playing in a park. He approached Satomi’s mother and asked if he could take some photos of the daughter. The mother agreed, and in the discussion with her, Otomo learned that Satomi’s family was quite artistic. Satomi’s father was a painter, and her brother was a pianist. Satomi could also paint and play piano, but her main interest was the practice of classical ballet. Over the next two years, Otomo became a friend of the Hiromoto family. In addition to whatever photos were taken in the park, Otomo photographed Satomi at age eight wearing a white dress and frolicking in a field of tall grass. Although these photos were taken in 1980 or 1981, they were not published until 1995.
Shoetsu Otomo – Satomi at Age Eight (1980-81) (2)
When Satomi was ten years old, in the summer of 1982, Otomo planned a photo shoot for her in Spain. This shoot would be Satomi’s first experience in nude modeling, and would provide material for Otomo’s first lolicon book. Mallorca, a Spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea, was chosen as the location for the photo shoot. Otomo, Satomi, and a crew including a producer and a stylist travelled over 6,000 miles on a flight that lasted over 22 hours for the shoot. It was quite an elaborate production, and a gamble for Otomo who had never made a lolicon book before. It paid off when the photo book Satomi 10 Year Old Myth (さとみ十歳の神話) was released in January 1983 and quickly became one of lolicon’s biggest hits.
Shoetsu Otomo – Satomi in Spain (1982) (1)
Satomi was photographed both indoors and outdoors, both clothed and nude. She was usually alone, but a Spanish woman and a Spanish girl are present in a few of the photos. It is remarkable how comfortable she appears on her first nude shoot and in a foriegn land. Her training as a ballerina is evident in the grace with which she handles many of the poses. In photographs by Otomo, more than other lolicon photographers, it is apparent that the both the model and the photographer contribute to the success of the image. This is especially shown in the indoor photos of Satomi in Spain; note how she positions her arms and legs. In the photograph of Satomi with a seated Spanish woman, the woman is sitting casually while Satomi seems to be in a ballet inspired pose. In three illustrations for this article, Satomi is standing with one knee up and her foot resting against her leg. This is a common pose for Satomi, but it is not used by Otomo’s other models. This leads me to believe that posing this way is Satomi’s idea, rather than a pose dictated by the photographer.
Shoetsu Otomo – Satomi in Spain (1982) (2)
There are sequences in which Satomi stood by a mirror or lay on the floor and asssumed various poses while Otomo snapped the pictures. Satomi was uninhibited in her poses, but Otomo was restrained in choosing what to photograph and publish. When Satomi posed with legs open too far, if Otomo photographed it at all he did so at an angle from which the pubic area was not visible. He did this in the top photo of the illustration captioned Satomi in Spain (1982) (7); a page from the book Satomi Forever. A Spanish man is with Satomi in two of the photos in Satomi 10 Year Old Myth. Whenever a male is present in a photograph by Otomo, all figures, male and female, are clothed.
Shoetsu Otomo – Satomi in Spain (1982) (4)
Satomi 10 Year Old Myth also contains photographs of the Spanish landscape and architecture. Satomi is present in most, but not all of the landscape photos. Otomo is known for photographing models in natural settings. The photo of Satomi standing at the corner of a building Is typical of Otomo’s architectural compositions. I believe this photo is from Pohnpei, but it could also be from Hawaii.
Shoetsu Otomo – Satomi in Spain (1982) (5)
More photos from the Spanish photo shoot were released in the book Lolita Doll (ロリータ・ドール) in August 1983, but there were no new photos of Satomi for over a year after Satomi 10 Year Old Myth. Disappointed fans thought that Satomi would be one of many lolicon models with only one photo shoot. Then in July 1984 Otomo’s and Satomi’s second book, Peek-A-Boo (original title in English) was released.
Shoetsu Otomo – Satomi in Spain (1982) (6)
Peek-A-Boo, like Satomi 10 Year Old Myth, was a very expensive production of photo shoots in natural settings at exotic locales. Two separate locations over 3,000 miles (nearly 5,000 kilometers) apart were used for the photo shoots in Peek-A-Boo. It appears that most photos in Peek-A-Boo were shot on the island of Pohnpei. It is reported that some were shot in Hawaii. This raises the question of why Otomo chose Pohnpei and Hawaii for the photo shoots. Both are tropical Pacific islands with lush vegetation and blue water, but there are other tropical locations that are more economically accessible from Japan. In order to travel from Japan to Pohnpei by commercial air, one must first go to either Hawaii or Guam, then change airplanes to go the Pohnpei. Guam is significantly closer to both Japan and Pohnpei than is Hawaii.
Shoetsu Otomo – Satomi in Spain (1982) (7)
Satomi was not photographed with any unique features of either Pohnpei or Hawaii, such as the volcanoes of Hawaii, or in the ruins of Nan Madol of Pohnpei. Therefore, to a layman there seems to be no reason to go to the expense of paying for a production crew to go to the remote locale. There may be subtle differences in the scenery that makes Pohnpei a better choice than other places for an artist like Otomo, but it is likely that Otomo’s passion for artistry resulted in a lower profit margin. Perhaps Otomo and Satomi cared more about fine art than about making money.
Shoetsu Otomo – Satomi in Peek-A-Boo (1984) (1)
Peek-A-Boo was released in July 1984, when Satomi was twelve years and one month old. Some sources state that Satomi was twelve when photographed for Peek-A-Boo; according to others she was eleven. It is possible that both are correct, if her twelfth birthday occurred during the project.
Shoetsu Otomo – Satomi in Peek-A-Boo (1984) (2)
Satomi’s next, and last photo project was for the book Fly-A-Way, released in December 1984. She was twelve years old when photographed for Fly-A-Way, but she looks older. She was still a minor, but because she matured so quickly Fly-A-Way, in my opinion, is closer to the teen idol genre than to actual lolicon. Fly-A-Way was shot in two locations near opposite ends of Japan; Hokkaido in the north and Yakushima in the south. Yakushima is a small island, most of which is covered by tropical forest, south of the Japanese main islands. Both the photos and a video for Fly-A-Way were recorded in the summer of 1984.
Shoetsu Otomo – Satomi in Satomi Forever (1984) (1)
Otomo photographed Satomi in the summer in Spain and Japan, and her other photo shoots were in the tropics. However, photos of Satomi in the winter snow were published in Satomi Forever. I have not been able to discover when or where the winter photos were taken.
Shoetsu Otomo – Satomi in Satomi Forever (1984) (2)
Satomi seemed to be proud of her work, and wanted her fans to know her. Unlike many lolicon models, she always used her real name when modeling. She put personal details in her books; for example, her favorite colors are purple and burgundy, she enjoys reading fairy tales, and her favorite food is shrimp.
Shoetsu Otomo – Satomi in Fly-A-Way (1984)
On September 27, 1984 Satomi hosted a video release party at the Capitol Tokyu Hotel, a luxury hotel in the Nagatacho district of Tokyo. Fans and the news media were invited. Satomi’s parents and grandparents were there. Satomi’s brother played piano to entertain the guests. Satomi wore a sailor suit, held a press conference, and was reported to be a gracious hostess and a charming young lady. She said that her hope for the future was to become an actress. In my opinion, the video release party illustrates the Japanese attitude about lolicon at the height of the lolicon era. Lolicon was art; it was respectable. One of Tokyo’s finest hotels had no problem with being the site of the lolicon release party, and the mainstream press attended. Support that Satomi received from family, friends, and the public for her art as a nude model was no different than the support she would have received if her art had been painting or ballet. Her fans expected that Satomi would continue modeling.
Shoetsu Otomo – Satomi in Winter (no date)
Surprisingly, Satomi was never in another commercial photo shoot. Also, she never pursued her dream of becoming an actress. In April 1985 some photos of Satomi from old photo shoots, as well as photos of other models were published in Beppin Special Edition Lolita Scramble. After that, no photos of Satomi were published until November 1995. Why did her career end so abrubtly? I don’t know, but I can speculate.
Shoetsu Otomo – Reona (1998)
In 1985 Satomi entered junior high school. There was a report that she had difficulty in getting along with others. It was not specified who made the report or why Satomi had difficulties, but there may be an obvious reason why. Satomi was a glamorous model. She was paid well to travel to exotic locations and be photographed. Her photos were published in books which no doubt attracted favorable attention of the boys in her school. It would seem natural, in these circumstances, for girls in her school to be jealous of Satomi. Perhaps Satomi felt that she had to choose between continuing her career as a model or being accepted by her female classmates. On graduating from school Satomi married and devoted her time to raising a family; she had no time for a career away from home.
Shoetsu Otomo – Aoi (1996) (1)
Another possibility for the reason she quit modeling could be that she was getting old for lolicon. I don’t think that was the reason she quit modeling, because other lolicon models continued to model as adults. Of the many lolicon models that were active during the 1969 through 1999 lolicon era in Japan, four of them, Satomi Hiromoto, Rika Nishimura (real name unknown), Nozomi Kurahashi (aka Ayumi Yoshizawa) and Shiori Suwano (real name Shigeko Niimi) achieved exceptionally great popularity and may be considered lolicon supermodels. Rika and Nozomi continued to model successfully as adults. Shiori did not like modeling, but used the fame she gained as a model to launch a successful acting career. Otomo photographed models well past puberty, so it seems unlikely that he quit photographing Satomi because of her age.
Shoetsu Otomo – The Room (1997)
Although there were no new photos of Satomi, photos from old shoots were again published after she graduated high school. Two books exclusively dedicated to Satomi were Satomi, released November 1995; and Satomi Forever, released November 1998. Satomi and other models photographed by Shoetsu Otomo were featured in the book Dreams, released May 1998. After Satomi was printed, but before it was released for sale, three American service men on Okinawa gang raped and severely beat a young Japanese girl. I remember seeing news reports of the incident in both American media and an English language newspaper from the Philippines. Although it was reported from different viewpoints, I do not remember any report that lolicon was in any way involved. Nevertheless, the publisher of Satomi decided that because of the rape, it would be best to censor the book. Sandpaper was used to erase the pubic area of photos in books sold in bookstores. The books sent by mail to individuals who ordered them were not censored. They were mailed in white boxes and are known as “White Satomi“; they are sought after as collector’s items today.
Shoetsu Otomo – Shinobu on Saipan (1984) (1)
Shoetsu Otomo photographed eight other models, in addition to Satomi, who are usually classified as lolicon. Five of them are in my opinion, a little old for lolicon. Reona (Minori Ishiki) began her career as an advertising model at age five. She is one of the famous models of the lolicon era, and was very good at modeling. She was twelve when she modeled for Otomo, and was well developed for her age. She was still a child, but looked more like a teenager with fully developed breasts, a womanly figure, and pubic hair. Two photo books of Reona photographed by Otomo were released in 1998, and she was also in the book Dreams released the same year. Aoi Inoue, a Japanese actress, was fourteen when she modeled for Otomo, and also too old for lolicon in the strictest sense. Her book Sonatine was released in 1996. Three anonymous southeast Asian teen girls modeled for Otomo in the book The Room (1997). One source stated they were from the Philippines. They appear to be amateurs and trying not to laugh, aware that they are getting away with something (posing nude) that would not normally be allowed. The Room appears to be a low budget work, shot in one session in a hotel room with local amateur girls.
Shoetsu Otomo – Shinobu on Saipan (1984) (2)
Of the three models, other than Satomi, who definitely are lolicon, the first is Shinobu Nemoto (根本しのぶ). Shinobu started modeling at age eight months in an advertisement for powdered milk. She continued modeling in print advertisements and acting in television commercials through her childhood, appearing in about 200 television commercials and about 3,000 print ads. When Otomo photographed her in 1984, she was one of the most recognized faces in Japan. Shinobu was photographed on Saipan where she celebrated her eleventh birthday on January 19, 1984. The photos were published in the book I’m not a Child (こどもじゃないモン) which was released on May 30, 1984. There are no nudes in the book. The text is handwritten, aledgedly by Shinobu herself, and tells of her impressions of Saipan and the excitement of turning eleven. In the second picture of Shinobu in this article she is holding a seed pod from a tree. She wrote that she enjoyed swinging the pod like a sword. I’m not a Child gives the reader the feeling of being a guest at Shinobu’s birthday party. Saipan is a popular destination for Japanese tourists, and is also the site of Teruo Maeba’s lolicon photos of Shiori Suwano.
Shoetsu Otomo – Emi in Hawaii (c1996) (1)
Emi’s Summer Vacation (えみちゃんの夏休み), released in 1996, is similar to Shinobu’s book, in that both offer the reader a glimpse of the model’s personal life. Emi’s Summer Vacation gives the impression that the reader is tagging along with Emi Hirose (広瀬 絵美) and her parents on a vacation in Hawaii. The text is written in a childish hand by Emi, telling about her trip to Hawaii. Emi is not as polished in her poses as the more experienced models. In some photos she seems bored, as if she wants to stop posing and have fun. Emi’s Summer Vacation was shot in several locations in Hawaii, and even though Emi was not an experienced model, her photo sessions appear to have been an expensive project. Was Emi a relative of Otomo, or the daughter of Otomo’s friends?
Shoetsu Otomo – Emi in Hawaii (c1996) (2)
Satomi married young, and when she was nineteen gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Kirara. Shortly before the new Japanese law brought the lolicon era to an end, Otomo did a nude photo shoot of Satomi’s daughter Kirara. The photos were not published in a book, but were distributed to Satomi’s fans. People who have seen the photos say that Kirara looks much like her mother. If lolicon had lasted a little longer, Kirara may have been the second generation lolicon star in her family.
Shoetsu Otomo – Emi in Hawaii (c1996) (3)