'Silver porn' shows fifty shades of greying Japan

'Silver porn' shows fifty shades of greying Japan

TOKYO - Dressed in a kimono and kneeling silently on a tatami mat floor, 61-year-old Ms Yasue Tomita looks as if she might be about to perform a Japanese tea ceremony - instead she's debuting as a porn actress.

Fluttering her eyelashes demurely as the cameras prepare to roll, Ms Tomita is proof that in Japan's greying society you're never too old to chase your dreams, however racy or unorthodox.

She has also become part of a flourishing niche market in Japan: "silver porn" - stretching the limits of eroticism among the elderly and overturning social norms in a country where people are expected to grow old gracefully.

Love, too, is not confined to the young, say Japan's growing army of pensioners exploring their desires in more conventional ways, with dating agencies for the elderly reporting increasingly brisk business.

Ms Tomita confessed to being "a bit rusty" but made no apologies for her rambunctious lust for life, or her decision to put aside her knitting and crochet and launch into a career making X-rated movies.

"I like my handicrafts but I wanted to try my hand at this, while my body still works," she told AFP before filming began.

"I do like sex, and this is my last chance before I get too old. I'm very nervous. I wonder if I should really do it, especially in front of so many people, but everyone should follow their dream.

"I just hope I can keep up," added Ms Tomita, who used to work in a factory manufacturing car parts and registered for an agency in Japan's booming "adult video" (AV) industry with her daughter.

"We applied through the Internet together. I got offered a job first, which surprised her a bit."

In ageing Japan, around 32 million people - a quarter of the population - are 65 or over. Thanks to a low birthrate and growing longevity, that proportion is expected to rise to 40 per cent by 2060.

With statistics like that, it's no surprise that geronto-porn is big business.

Adult movies rake in about US$20 billion (S$27.4 billion) a year, and those featuring unashamedly wrinkly men and women account for between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of that market, industry insiders say. Sales have rocketed over the past decade as more of Japan's perky seniors celebrate their mojo.

Though not for the faint-hearted, the genre took off thanks largely to now-80-year-old Shigeo Tokuda, the twinkle-toed king of granddad porn, who has peeled off for hundreds of hardcore flicks with titles such as "Forbidden Elderly Care" and "Manic Training of Lolitas".

Pornography became widely available in Japan in the 1900s, with seventeenth century Edo-era woodblock erotic prints being many people's first introduction to the genre.

Attitudes towards sex are less prudish than in other parts of the world and fun-loving fertility festivals, where giant wooden phalluses are joyfully carried around towns, take place annually in parts of Japan.

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