While August in Japan tends to be the time when studios release horror films to help "chill" the country's over-heated movie audiences here in Canada summer is all about sun and sex. Well, maybe that's a bit of a stretch, but when all five of us Pow-Wow members chatted recently about what this month's Top Ten List would be our minds went straight to all things sexy. This this month we offer you our choices for our Top Ten Sexiest Scenes in japanese Film. Now, to make things "sexy" as opposed to "smutty" we decided to limit our choice to scenes from mainstream films as opposed to, say, pink films. We wanted to keep things work safe (at least in terms of images), plus we wanted to give you all a tour of the sexier side of films you may have already seen, or might seek out because of this list. So light some candles and out some Barry White music on and get ready to get sexy...
10. Trading One Secret for Another - from Rokuro Mochizuki's "Pandora: Hong Kong Leg" from "Jam Films"
Takami Yoshimoto has a secret: she suffers from terribly itchy athlete's foot. Desperate for a cure she heads to Chinatown, where she meets what could kindly be described as a manic caricature of a wise old Chinese herb dealer (Butoh/theater actor Akaji Maro). He guesses her secret and says he has a cure, leading her through alleyways and into a seemingly abandoned theater. There the stage is set with a regal red velvet throne set atop a large box. At the foot of the chair, there's a hole in the box. "Put your feet in there," the old Chinese man says, and when she does she discovers something surprising about herself. "Pandora" is maybe the least judgmental and most expressive film ever made about sexual fetishes. In a mere 15 minutes, director Rokuro Mochizuki presents us with three unnamed characters who are foot fetishist/subordinate/body worshiper, closet voluptuary, and voyeur. None is depicted as depraved or in need of help; by all accounts they each lead healthy, productive lives. It just so happens that those lives intersect onstage in a quiet fulfillment of sexual obsession. Yoshimoto plays her nameless protagonist with verve. As she writhes onstage fully clothed but for her bare feet, there's no questioning her ecstasy. It's one of the most erotically charged non-sex sex scenes I've ever seen. Further, try watching the first 2 minutes of the film with your eyes closed. In a clever bit of juxtaposition that hints at what's to come, the soundtrack's panting, moaning and rhythmic thumping is crafted to sound pinku but set over visuals that don't jibe… yet. EE
9. "Act Like a Samurai!" - from Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai"
A minor yet intriguing subplot of Akira Kurosawa’s classic masterpiece “Seven Samurai” involves Katsushiro (Isao Kimura), the youngest of the titular heroes, and Shino (Keiko Tsushima), one of the peasants they must protect. Her father, the overprotective Manzo (Kamatari Fujiwara), attempts to disguise her as a boy so as to keep her from being seduced by the samurai. Yet that plan fails when Katsushiro discovers her true identity and soon after falls in love with her. Their story not only adds another moral dilemma to the film through their different classes, but also provides some romantic tension which noticeably increases as the village’s crucial battle draws closer and closer. Of the two of them, it is Shino who makes the advances while Katsushiro, who is otherwise quite eager to prove his worth as a man, comically reacts with hesitation and flat-out fear. The scene that most effectively highlights the nature of their relationship drops in on them as they relax and talk together in a flowery clearing. At the exact point when their conversation turns to more sensitive matters, Kurosawa masterfully cuts to an overwhelming close-up that has Shino’s face occupying the whole of the screen like a giant planet – perhaps the perfect depiction of Katsushiro’s terror-rattled, out-of-proportion perception of her. She then falls back on the ground and cries, “Coward! Act like a samurai!” as he looks on, trembling and unsure how to proceed. Though their romance grows more fiery later on in the film (quite literally, when they embrace in a hut as shadows of flames dance over their bodies), this scene perfectly articulates the supremely intimidating force that sex appears as through adolescent eyes. MSC
8. A Naked Embrace - from Yasuzo Masumura's "Manji"
Bored housewife Sonoko (played by Kyoko Kishida from "Woman In The Dunes") meets and pursues the younger beautiful Mitsuko. Director Yasuzo Masumura pushes boundaries in this 1964 film that, through an episodic look at their growing relationship, documents one woman's total and complete obsession. Even when Mitsuko is shown to be pulling many of the strings to create tense and awkward situations (she manages to involve not only Sonoko's husband, but her own fiancee as well), Sonoko is not deterred. There's plenty of lacivious behaviour in the film, but the sexiest scene is likely a mutual hug by the two ladies after they have disrobed. Mitsuko's body is peeking out of the wrapped sheet she has around her and after Sonoko devours the glimpse of her posterior with her eyes, she tears the sheet off her in strips with a ferociousness that she's never really known. As she sees Mitsuko's fully naked body, she slowly falls to her knees in front of her, just as she would were she about to pay tribute to some idol or statue of a God. Sonoko removes her clothing as well and approaches Mitsuko looking much more comfortable and with a much more confident air about her - even on a par with the sexual being in front of her. She gives her a fairly wicked smile as she moves in for the embrace and they begin to caress each other's bodies with zeal. BT
7. The Big Reveal - from Keisuke Kinoshita's "Carmen Comes Home"
Whoever said sex had to be serious? Certainly not Keisuke Kinoshita. Although Kinoshita is probably best known for his 1954 meldodramatic classic "Twenty-Four Eyes" one of the directors real claims to fame came three years prior when the execs at Shochiku managed to get their hands on a supply of Eastman Kodak 35mm colour film and decided that they wanted to dazzle movie audiences with sweeping vistas, natural wonders... and scantily clad ladies. The result was the musical comedy "Carmen Comes Home", which centered around the clash of cultures and morals betyween rural Japan and big city Tokyo. Pretty country girl Kin (Hideko Takamine) has spent the past couple of years living in Japan's capital and one day she returns to her parents meager homestead a totally changed woman. Decked out in colourful Western-style dresses and wearing garish make-up Kin, now calling herself Carmen after the seductive protagonist of Bizet's opera, has recreated herself as a cosmopolitan "artiste". In tow is Carmen's best friend Maya (Toshiko Kobayashi), an equally modern and equally sexy young woman who Carmen met during her time on the stage in Tokyo. The two indulge in much singing and dancing in the rolling green hills of Carmen's hometown. The local school prinicpal and mayor decide that they should allow Carmen and Maya to inject a bit of big city culture into their small town lives. The only problem is that as the two young women take the stage wearing very revealing outfits it quickly becomes obvious to the stunned audience of townsfolk that Carmen and Maya aren't ballerinas - they're burtlesque dancers! Kinoshita plays up the scene for laughs with the band on stage trying desperately to keep up with Carmen and Maya's bump and grind while the men in the audience can't keep their mouths from dropping open and their eyes from bugging out of their heads. While Takemine has gone down in Japanese film history as one of its screen actresses it's hard not to notice how good she looks in a bikini top and sarong, and once she and Toshiko Kobayashi finally strip down to nothing but their birthday suits the male viewers (and some female viewers as well) of "Carmen Comes Home" surely wish they could see what the audience members standing dumbfounded in the front row are getting a peek at. CM
6. Rainy Day Seduction - from Takeshi Kitano's "Sonatine"
I’m willing to bet that those who scan their mental catalogues of the sexiest moments in Japanese cinema won’t come up with Takeshi Kitano’s “Sonatine” right away. Like most, if not all, of the director’s work, the 1993 yakuza film has a very careful sense of pacing about it, emphasized by still, quiet moments, deadpan humor and shocking bursts of violence and bloodshed – not exactly the stuff wet dreams are made of. On top of that, the film is mainly male-dominated, focusing on a bunch of yakuza who escape to a deserted beach to lay low during a clan dispute. The crooks, led by Kitano’s Murakawa, make the most of their impromptu vacation by building sand traps, sumo wrestling, staging Roman candle battles and finding other ways to clown around. One night, Murakawa spots a pretty young woman struggling with a man who he swiftly neutralizes with his gun. So enters Miyuki (Aya Kokumai), who soon enough begins meeting with the thugs on a daily basis and joining in their fun and games. Being as attractive as she is, she definitely adds a refreshing dynamic of sexuality to the film through her presence alone. But it isn’t until she and Murakawa get caught in a rain shower while walking together that she really starts to heat things up. They both take shelter under a tree and simply look at each other for a few seconds. Then, without saying anything or revealing any sense of shyness or hesitation, she removes her top. Thus, in one swift move, she adds so much more to her nature and relationship with the tired gangster – while simultaneously dropping a veritable h-bomb of sex appeal. Later on, when she mournfully wanders the beach alone and spends a few final moments with Murakawa, she comes to embody most poignantly the familiar feelings of nostalgia and sadness that accompany the end of summer just as the yakuza’s holiday closes. But for hotness alone, even though she looks great throughout all of Kitano’s film, she never again quite reaches the ridiculously high level achieved in just a handful of smoldering frames in that rain shower sequence. MSC
5. Horny Little Devil - from Eiichi Yamamoto's "Belladonna of Sadness"
Most people don't think of sex when they think of Osamu Tezuka. The "God of Manga" created such iconic characters as Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion and Black Jack, but he also founded the animation studio Mushi Productions in the early 1960's to make animated versions of his manga creations. By the early 1970's though Mushi Pro was suffering finacially and Tezuka lefthe company which ended up carrying on without him. In a doomed attempt to ease its financial woes Mushi Pro began making erotic animated films such as "Cleopatra", an X-rated feature-length animated film about the Egyptian queen. That was followed up by director Eiichi Yamamoto's even more daring (both artistically and sexually) 1973 animated film titled "Belladonna of Sadness". This psychedelic passion play took its inspiration from French writer Jules Michelet's 1862 book "La Sorcière" which chronicled the history of wichcraft in Europe. Yamamoto and his screenwriting partner Yoshiyuki Fukuda took Michelet's endless examples of sexually-related magic rituals and wrapped them around the story of a girl named Jeanne (voiced by actress Aiko Nagayama) who is raped on her wedding night by the local lord. This terrible crime breaks up her marriage even before it can start and sets Jeanne down the road of sexual damnation. While Jeanne's rape is based in reality its the fantastic scene in which she first meets the Devil (voiced by screen legend Tatsuya Nakadai) that puts it firmly in the middle of our sexiest moments list. The Devil first appears to Jeanne as a tiny cowled figure, only a few inches tall with a bald dome of a head. Let me repeat that... a few inches tall (or long) with a domed head. Yes, we quickly see the visual similarity between the Devil and a flaccid penis, but this horny little devil doesn't stay flaccid for long. The scene has the Devil simulating a handjob in Jeanne's palm before growing in size, sliding down her breasts and ultimately hiding himself away under her skirt. The expected moans and groans from Jeanne follow as the Devil goes entirely from demon to genitalia. Daring in 1973 and still daring today this scene doesn't just get Jeanne's juices flowing, it gets ours flowing as well. CM
4. Monsoon Masturbation - from Shinya Tsukamoto's "A Snake of June"
When I first read about "A Snake of June", I was a tad unsure of what to expect. I mean this is the guy who gave us assaultive, sensory overload marvels such as "Tetsuo" and "Tokyo Fist". Are his body horror thematic elements able to cross over into the world of sexuality? The answer, hell yes! Shigehiko and his wife Rinko have a physically loveless relationship. That is until Iguchi steps in, bursting open Rinko’s doors of repressed sexuality. But breaking her obsessive-compulsive husband out of his prison won’t be as easy, so Rinko, with the help of Iguchi, a vibrator, a sexy black dress and some stalking photography comes up with a plan. Luring her husband into following her, she ends her catwalk in a dark alley where a car awaits. She then takes said vibrator and puts it to use, moaning and groaning in the pouring rain as Iguchi sits in his car, snapping photo after photo. She rips off her clothes, but continues with her self-stimulated pleasure, until her husband, spying from behind a corner, can take it no more and begins to pleasure himself. Soon, we are witness to a ménage a trois of sexual stimulus as all three climax in a collage of monsoon imagery. Narratively, the setup for this scene is amazing, and whilst full of masturbation, nudity and voyeurism, manages to remain completely non-exploitation, believe it or not. You’ve got a naked woman pleasuring herself with a vibrator in the rain, a man spying on her and masturbating and a voyeur in a car snapping photo after photo of this woman in ecstasy, and its incredibly sexy and incredibly beautiful. Hand it to Tsukamoto to be able to create this astounding montage of flashing bulbs, pouring rain, and moans of pleasure. If the imagery isn’t enough to astound you, the frenetic but completely intentional way in which is it’s edited surely will. This is sexy, sexy stuff, chiefly because it focuses on the sexual liberation these people are partaking in. MH
3. A Feast for the Senses - from Juzo Itami's "Tampopo"
Sexy isn't just about sex and it's certainly not just about whatever plumbing is going on between someone's legs. For something to be truly sexy all the senses need to be engaged - sight, hearing, smell, of course touch and also taste. The taste of a lover's kiss is often the appetizer to a whole feast of pleasures; but in Juzo Itami's worldwide 1985 comedy hiot "Tampopo" a kiss is combined with food and taste in a sensual display never before seen in film history and one still unrivaled today. While the main plot of "Tampopo" revolves around a woman, Itami's wife and frequent collaborator Nobuko Miyamoto, who is schooled by a cowboy truck driver (Tsutomu Yamazaki) in the art of making a perfect bowl of ramen Itami includes a variety of unrelated scenes and recurring sub-plots that explore Japan's love affair with food. One of these sub-plots involves a sauve gangster played by a young Koji Yakusho and his girlfriend played by Fukumi Kuroda. The two spend most of the film confined to a hotel room where they order a smorgasbord of delicacies from room service. These gourmet delights aren't just gobbled down though, they're used in scene after scene of exquisite and and endlessly inventive lovemaking. Yes, the scenes of the two, including a frequently nude Kuroda are definitely titilating, but Itami goes from just titilating to outrageously sexy by using one simple prop - an egg yolk. Just after it seems like our gangster and his moll have finally brought their passionate marathon to an end Yakusho comes up behind Kuroda, wraps his arms around her and takes an egg from the table. He cracks it and delicately seperates the yolk from the uncooked white. He then takes sips the raw yolk into his mouth and carefully lets it drop in between Kuroda's lips. Their bodies pressed together the two shift the yolk between each other's mouths again and again until it finally break and dribbles down Kuroda's chin as she moans in pleasure. It's a scene that defines sexy. (Is it getting hot in here our is it just me...?) CM
2. Indoor shower - from Shohei Imamura's "Warm Water Under A Red Bridge"
Trust Shohei Imamura to craft a gentle, adult, magical realism-tinged romance about love and projectile female ejaculate. Played in every conceivable way as a straight drama (yet tellingly cross-categorized as drama, romance and comedy by IMDB), "Warm Water Under A Red Bridge" follows out-of-work salaryman Yosuke (Koji Yakusho) on a trip to fulfill a dying friend's wish: Go to a certain house by the river in a small town and retrieve the treasure left there decades earlier. What Yosuke finds is Saeko (Misa Shimizu), a woman of impulse with a somewhat unique physical attribute. Note the moisture on the window pictured above. That's not rain. When Yosuke sees her shoplift but says nothing, Saeko recognizes in him-—what? Kindred spirit? Kind soul? Whatever it is, she takes to him in a direct, uncomplicated seduction that depicts her as both wanton and vulnerable. The film's few sex scenes are frank and speak to the power of pure chemistry: These two damaged people are right for one another from the moment they share a gaze, and their bodies won't let them deny it. Imamura's film is part fable and Saeko is a Snow White awaiting her shabby prince. Her bright red blouse echoes the bright red of the family parrot, an exotic bird in an otherwise drab fishing village. When Yosuke crosses that red bridge to find his princess, he leaves his old life behind and steps into a storybook of passion. EE
1. Dirty Sweaty Sex - from Hiroshi Teshigahara's "Woman in the Dunes"
Leave it to Hiroshi Teshigahara to top our countdown. Also of note, Kyoko Kishida makes another appearance on the list (with both the films being released in 1964) as the titular woman in the dunes. Is it surprising that with all that sand around the place, that this is one of the dirtiest and sweatiest sex scenes one can bring to mind? Kishida plays a woman determined to save her house from the slowly encroaching sand dunes. A travelling scientist is encouraged by the local townsfolk to stay in her abode for the night, but finds that he is unable to leave the following morning due to the flowing sand all around him. Initially he tries to escape, but finally ends up becoming accustomed to his new life and the woman with whom he will share it. At one point she asks him whether all women in cities are beautiful. He dismisses her comment and begins to clean her by wiping down her sweat with a cloth. His simple touches and strokes on her back begin to make her shudder and she starts to breathe heavily. As the camera winds its way around her ever tensing body, it captures little details like her toes curling, her hand reaching back to caress him and the caked on dirt on their bodies. Even the soundtrack itself begins to bristle with anticipation as the couple drop any pretense of cleansing themselves and fall to the ground to make love in the sandy ground. It's a rousing scene... BT