Life as a retiree isn’t exactly easy. Sure, you don’t have to get up and go to work every morning, but that also means you don’t have a very substantial income. While your retirement checks might help you put food on the table, they’ll probably seem a bit underwhelming as you get even older. And in Japan, you can’t even go out and get a depressing job as a greeter at Wal-mart.

But there’s always Yahoo! Auction, where you can sell any manner of things you might have lying around the house. Old instruments, old clothes, old dolls, or even, what the heck, how about some old pornographic photos? Any of those are sure to fetch a tidy sum online, but you might want to be careful about those explicit photos–they could very well end up with you getting arrested, as one 83-year-old Tokyo retiree learned!

According to various Japanese news sources, 83-year-old retiree Yasuji Shibata was arrested for selling obscene material via an Internet auction in April for 3,400 yen (about US$28) after police found explicit photos in his home on November 16. While you may be imagining something deviant involving carrots and horses right now, it turns out the photos weren’t nearly so scandalous. In fact, the pictures, which were apparently originally taken before World War II in either the Taisho or Showa period, were downright tame in comparison to whatever dirty websites you visit when your mom isn’t around.

The photos, some of which were black and white and others sepia, depicted men and women in various poses and states of undress. However, Shibata, it turns out, wasn’t the original photographer–he apparently bought them at a kottoushi, basically a Japanese flea market, in Yurakucho, Tokyo in December 2009.


Rather than simply reselling the photos, Shibata shot the photos with a digital camera and then exposed the digital pictures. He’s apparently been doing this since 2010, and claims to have made about 600,000 yen (roughly $5,000) over the last nearly five years, having sold sets of the photos to around 300 people. The retiree told authorities that he was having trouble getting by on public assistance and simply wanted to supplement his income.

Police arrested Shibata at his house on November 16, confiscating his computer, the original photos, and digital cameras. Shibata confessed to the crime, though his wife apparently had no idea the photos existed. The retiree told police that his son had taught him how to use digital cameras and the computer.

Obviously, pornography isn’t necessarily illegal in Japan–the problem seems to be the fact that the photos portrayed certain body parts clearly…and we don’t mean their belly buttons. If you have a burning desire to know what the photos looked, this might have been one of Shibata’s auctions. Obviously, it’s not safe for work or school, but the auction photos have coins placed over the really scandalous areas, so they’re probably not illegal in Japan.

As you might imagine, the news made quite a stir online, with many Twitter users commenting on Shibata’s case and the naughty photos.

“Pre-war photos? Amazing! It seems like they would have some other value [besides pornography].”
“They should be in a museum! But I don’t know the photos depicted. I’d like someone to post some examples for me!”
“I feel like they’d have some historical value. I really want to see what they look like!”
“I want to see these pre-war photos. What pose were they in? Were they women? Men? Both? Did the women have their armpits shaved? I’m so curious!”

You can get a look at Shibata and some more blurry shots of the photos in the video below.

Honestly, we can’t help feeling bad for Shibata. While it’s obvious he knew the photos weren’t on the up and up–otherwise why would he have placed the coins so carefully–who can complain about a retiree making a bit of extra money using technology? We actually have to say that we kind of admire his (dirty) entrepreneurial spirit!

Sources: Asahi, YouTube, Tokyo Sports, Naver Matome (h/t Brent Millis)
Images: YouTube, Yahoo! Auction (NOT SAFE FOR WORK)