20 Questions about Japanese AV with a porn pro

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I have covered Japanese adult video since this website first went online almost a decade ago. Since then I have also received countless questions about the Japanese porn industry from people all over the world. I have tried to answer many myself but I have also reached out to experts. Now I have presented 20 questions about Japanese porn to the guy behind the amazing ZENRA website. If anyone knows about Japanese porn, it’s him.

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I first mentioned ZENRA in a list of the best porn way back in 2016. ZENRA has been the best source for subtitled Japanese porn at least since then. Now it is even better thanks to a major overhaul that made the side easier to navigate and generally just better to look at. I have spent untold hours going through the archives there. The addition of new videos all the time ensures that I will keep visiting in the future too. Eventually I even did an interview with the owner of ZENRA but the questions there were more focused on his part in the business.

Now I present you with 20 questions and answers about Japanese porn. Some of these questions came from readers. Others reflect things I’ve read or picked up from various sources. But all of the answers will be of interest to anyone who is interested in Japanese AV, fuzoku and the adult entertainment industry in Japan.

Years ago a Japanese AV producer claimed that 1 out of every 200 Japanese women had done porn. Do you think that was true?

Not even remotely close. The actual number is way, way less. Just look at new JAV releases in any given year and see how many actual new faces are there. Perhaps 1 out of every 200 Japanese women who also work in the sex industry have done porn, but nothing beyond that.

What is the status of the Japanese porn industry at the moment? How often are videos being filmed and released? Are revenues steady, growing or in decline?

Shooting even during this current worldwide situation is still going on. I’ve heard bukkake shoots have been limited though for obvious reasons. Per revenues, some studios are making more and others less. Most agree that the era of huge money (pre-tubes) is long gone.

When was the height of the Japanese adult video industry reached? How many videos were being released monthly during that time?

Early to mid 2000’s was the Golden Era of JAV. This is the time when studios had the most creative freedom (and compared to the west, they still have tons now) and were making insane amounts of money. You had multiple studios pushing out big group/orgy titles each month. Now we’re down to maybe three studios that still will regularly release big group movies.

Do Japanese consumers purchase more porn on physical discs or downloads these days? How about streaming?

Nowadays, VOD reigns supreme. People still buy physical and often in big cities at least it’s during those many JAV star meet-and-greet events. They’re easier to carry out in Japan due to the size of the country.

How many hard copies of each AV release are pressed up on average?

I’m not sure off-hand. If I had to guess anywhere from several hundred to several thousand. A smaller studio once told me selling 300 copies of a title physically in the first few months of its release is
considered “OK”.

Who is the biggest AV porn star in Japan right now?

In terms of newer faces, Eimi Fukada may be it. She actually debuted a few years ago, but took time off for plastic surgery and has been on fire since. There’s quite a few other popular actresses as well, but who’s who in JAV is one of my weak points. I’m more focused on what studios make rather than who’s in them.

Maria Ozawa was one of the biggest AV stars in the US for years. She is also very popular in Indonesia and the Philippines. Is she the biggest international star to come out of Japanese AV?

I don’t think she was even that popular in Japan and hasn’t performed in close to a decade. The biggest international star to come out of JAV is probably Marica Hase.

Do you think tube sites and free porn have had as big an impact on Japanese porn as they have on the American porn industry?

Bigger because the JAV industry is horrible at enforcing their copyright. We help out at times, but as the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water…

How interested are Japanese porn companies in reaching out to the rest of the world? Obviously we now have sites like R18 but otherwise it doesn’t seem like a lot of attention is given to places like the US and UK with large porn markets.

They all want to expand, but few have the will, the time, and the communication abilities necessary to do so. There’s also the fact that most everybody hates mosaic (including studios and fans in Japan).
There’s big hurdles in getting foreigners who normally don’t watch JAV to start enjoying JAV.

Do Japanese porn companies see any revenue out of countries where AV has become very popular such as China, Taiwan, Indonesia and Thailand?

Taiwan has a big JAV presence. They have events that JAV stars fly out to appear in so I am going to assume that yes, at least there, revenue is quite substantial. Taiwan also happens to be one of the few other Asian countries where porn isn’t outlawed (though there seems to be a dire lack of Taiwan-produced content).

How much do AV stars make per video?

A well-known name’s agency may receive $4-5KUSD for a day’s work (2 sex scenes, 2-3 other scenes) with the JAV star receiving half.

A lot of people ask me how to get into Japanese porn. Occasionally I will see a few black guys or a westerner. Some videos are also based around Korean, Thai or “hafu” models too. How many foreigners are actually involved in Japanese AV?

If we’re talking in production and distribution (hello!), a few dozen at most.

A lot of AV stars do general sex work in Japan. They often show up in soaplands, strip clubs and other fuzoku shops. Is this a case of porn stars doing prostitution, or prostitutes moving into porn? Can they work in both areas simultaneously?

Pretty much every single JAV star got started doing sex work before doing JAV. The whole “I’m a real college student who decided to star in a porno” is fiction. These girls have at least done a little bit of out-call delivery work before making the leap. Some JAV stars will also work at brothels during their careers; sometimes they will be public about this and other times it’s done secretly. I don’t recall the URL offhand, but there’s a Japanese language BBS that consists of entries ‘outing’ JAV stars working at brothels under different names.

In the West, Japanese AV has become known for its “weird” videos featuring all sorts of various themes. I’ve seen everything from sex game show videos to grannie gangbangs in onsens. How common are these kinds of videos in Japan? How popular are they?

They’re not too common nor too popular in Japan. Not many studios produce the weird stuff; maybe more than western studios, but not as much as you may think. Just like foreigners, most Japanese enjoy pretty women having sex on camera. The biggest studios here mainly produce vanilla content.

How do most female AV stars end their careers? What do most of them go on to do?

Most JAV stars simply stop and move on with their lives. Some may have big retirement movies. Some may openly announce a retirement plus temporarily working at a big brothel like Tora. Some will open up snack bars and make appearance at hostess club for awhile, but that’s about it. A small number now, however, are pivoting into being social media personalities.

I have one last question. The Japan Contents Review Center and its predecessors were originally voluntary organizations. That being the case, what would happen if a Japanese porn studio simply ignored them and released videos without their censorship or approval?

If they don’t submit to Ethics companies, DMM and other big sites and stores won’t sell them. That’s about it. So doing something like opening your own paysite, selling on smaller sites/platforms is still fine even if you “self-inspect” your work for mosaic.

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2 Comments

  1. Jack April 4, 2020
    • Rockit April 4, 2020

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