This morning I got a frantic email from a good friend who lives in exile, or at least against his will, in Japan. This friend is a photographer of a certain genre. (And no, I never modeled for him when he was shooting in that particular genre, despite his entertaining efforts to convince me that I should. We bonded on other issues. ) My friend had submitted a couple of rolls of film to be developed but not printed at his trusty camera shop of many years. He told me he had tried to communicate to the store manager that this was a special order and should be handled with a certain sensitivity. When he went to pick up the order the manager made him wait an uncomfortably long time and when he got home with his order he found some type of form letter enclosed in each set of negatives. He doesn't read Japanese and didn't know if the letters said they were going to prosecute or what, so he sent me a scan of the notices.
Turns out this must be a fairly common enough occurence because using very polite lanugage the form letter said:
"Thank you very much for your color print order. When we viewed the negatives of the film you submitted for prints there were images that we are not able to print. We are returning your negatives without printing the images mentioned above. We ask for your understanding in this manner."
I know that photos and even comic drawings of genitals are illegal in Japan. Showing depictions of pubic hair is even illegal. But there sure is plenty of porn in Japan. I guess my big question should be why doesn't my friend just go digital and avoid dealing with a camera store at all? No, wait, that shouldn't really be my question should it? Actually, it is my question.